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Full text of "Folks from Dixie"

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ELLA SMITH ELBERT. J 8fi 
KATHARINE E. COMAN 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/folksfromdixie1898dunb 




MR. RUGGLES. 



FOLKS 
FROM DIXIE 

BY 

PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 

Author of " Lyrics of Lowly Life *' 

With Illustrations by 
E. W. KEMBLE 




NEW YORK 
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY 

1898 



Copyright, 1897, 
By Bacheller Syndicate. 

Copyright, 1898, 
By John Brisben Walker. 

Copyright, 1898, 
By Dodd, Mead and Company. 



John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U- S. A. 



To my Friend 
H. A. TOBEY, M. D. 



Contents 

Page 

Anner 'Lizer's Stumblin' Block .... 3 

The Ordeal at Mt. Hope 29 

The Colonel's Awakening 69 

The Trial Sermons on Bull-Skin .... 83 

Jimsella 113 

Mt. Pisgah's Christmas 'Possum . . . . 125 

A Family Feud . . 137 

Aunt Mandy's Investment . . . . . . 159 

The Intervention of Peter 171 

Nelse Hatton's Vengeance 185 

At Shaft ii < . . . 205 

The Deliberation of Mr. Dunkin . . . 235 



List of Illustrations 

Page 
"Mr. Ruggles" Frontispiece 

"A Visit from Uncle Eben" 18 

" Aunt Caroline was finding solace in her 

pipe" 56 

" Brother Hezekiah Sneedon " . . . . . 84 

" Why n't you git me somep'n' to fix my- 
self up in?" 114 

"i see 'possum grease on yo' mouf " . . 131 

"Old Aunt Doshy" 137 

"Wha' 'd you ketch?" . ...... 186 



ANNER 'LIZER'S 
STUMBLIN' BLOCK 



Folks from Dixie 

9 

ANNER 'LIZER'S STUMBLIN' BLOCK 

It was winter. The gray old mansion of Mr. 
Robert Selfridge, of Fayette County, Ky., was 
wrapped in its usual mantle of winter sombre- 
ness, and the ample plantation stretching in 
every direction thereabout was one level plain 
of unflecked whiteness. At a distance from the 
house the cabins of the negroes stretched away 
in a long, broken black line that stood out in 
bold relief against the extreme whiteness of 
their surroundings. 

About the centre of the line, as dark and un- 
inviting as the rest, with its wide chimney of 
scrap limestone turning clouds of dense smoke 
into the air, stood a cabin. 

There was nothing in its appearance to dis- 
tinguish it from the other huts clustered about. 
The logs that formed its sides were just as 
seamy, the timbers of the roof had just the same 

3 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

abashed, brow-beaten look ; and the keenest eye 
could not have detected the slightest shade of 
difference between its front and the bare, un- 
whitewashed fronts of its scores of fellows. 
Indeed, it would not have been mentioned at 
all, but for the fact that within its confines lived 
and thrived the heroine of this story. 

Of all the girls of the Selfridge estate, black, 
brown, or yellow, Anner 'Lizer was, without 
dispute, conceded to be the belle. Her black 
eyes were like glowing coals in their sparkling 
brightness ; her teeth were like twin rows of 
shining ivories ; her brown skin was as smooth 
and soft as silk ; and the full lips that enclosed 
her gay and flexile tongue were tempting enough 
to make the heart of any dusky swain throb and 
his mouth water. 

Was it any wonder, then, that Sam Merritt 
— strapping, big Sam, than whom there was not 
a more popular man on the place — should pay 
devoted court to her ? 

Do not gather from this that it was Sam 
alone who paid his devoirs to this brown beauty. 
Oh, no ! Anner 'Lizer was the u bright, par- 
ticular star" of that plantation, and the most 
desired of all blessings by the young men there- 

4 



ANNER 'LIZER 

about. But Sam, with his smooth but fearless 
ways, Sam, with his lightsome foot, so airy in 
the dance, Sam, handsome Sam, was the all- 
preferred. If there was a dance to go to, a 
corn-husking to attend, a social at the rude little 
log church, Sam was always the lucky man who 
was alert and able to possess himself of Anner 
'Lizer's " comp'ny." And so, naturally, people 
began to connect their names, and the rumour 
went forth, as rumours will, that the two were 
engaged ; and, as far as engagements went 
among the slaves in those days, I suppose it was 
true. Sam had never exactly prostrated himself 
at his sweetheart's feet and openly declared his 
passion ; nor had she modestly snickered behind 
her fan, and murmured yes in the approved 
fashion of the present. But he had looked his 
feelings, and she had looked hers ; while numer- 
ous little attentions bestowed on each other, too 
subtle to be detailed, and the attraction which 
kept them constantly together, were earnests of 
their intentions more weighty than words could 
give. And so, let me say, without further ex- 
planation, that Sam and Anner 'Lizer were 
engaged. But when did the course of true 
love ever run smooth ? 

5 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

There was never a time but there were some 
rocks in its channel around which the little 
stream had to glide or over which it had to 
bound and bubble ; and thus it was with the 
loves of our young friends. But in this case 
the crystal stream seemed destined neither to 
bound over nor glide by the obstacle in its path, 
but rather to let its merry course be checked 
thereby. 

It may, at first, seem a strange thing to say, 
but it was nevertheless true, that the whole 
sweep and torrent of the trouble had rise in the 
great religious revival that was being enthusias- 
tically carried on at the little Baptist meeting- 
house. Interest, or, perhaps more correctly 
speaking, excitement ran high, and regularly as 
night came round all the hands on the neigh- 
bouring plantations flocked to the scene of their 
devotions. 

There was no more regular attendant at 
these meetings, nor more deeply interested lis- 
tener to the pastor's inflammatory exhortations, 
than Anner 'Lizer. The weirdness of the 
scene and the touch of mysticism in the services 

— though, of course, she did not analyse it thus 

— reached her emotional nature and stirred her 

6 



ANNER 'LIZER 

being to its depths. Night after night found 
her in her pew, the third bench from the rude 
pulpit, her large eyes, dilated to their fullest 
capacity, following the minister through every 
motion, seeming at times in their steadfastness 
to look through him and beyond to the regions 
he was describing, — the harp-ringing heaven of 
bliss or the fire-filled home of the damned. 

Now Sam, on the other hand, could not be 
induced to attend these meetings ; and when 
his fellow-servants were at the little church 
praying, singing, and shouting, he was to be 
found sitting in one corner of his cabin, picking 
his banjo, or scouring the woods, carrying axe 
and taper, and, with a dog trotting at his heels, 
hunting for that venison of the negro palate, — 
'coon. 

Of course this utter irreverence on the part 
of her lover shocked Anner 'Lizer; but she had 
not entered far enough into the regions of the 
ecstasy to be a proselyte ; so she let Sam go his 
way, albeit with reluctance, while she went to 
church unattended. But she thought of Sam ; 
and many a time when she secretly prayed to 
get religion she added a prayer that she might 
retain Sam. 

7 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

He, the rogue, was an unconscious but pro- 
nounced sceptic ; and day by day, as Anner 
'Lizer became more and more possessed by 
religious fervour, the breach between them 
widened ; still widening gradually until the one 
span that connected the two hearts was sud- 
denly snapped asunder on the night when Anner 
'Lizer went to the mourner's bench. 

She had not gone to church with that intention ; 
indeed not, although she had long been deeply 
moved by a consciousness of her lost estate. 
But that night, when the preacher had pictured 
the boundless joys of heaven, and then, lean- 
ing over the pulpit and stretching out his arms 
before him, had said in his softest tone, " Now 
come, won't you, sinnahs ? De Lawd is jes' 
on de othah side ; jes' one step away, waitin' 
to receibe you. Won't you come to him ? 
Won't you tek de chance o' becomin' j'int 'ars 
o' dat beautiful city whar de streets is go? an' 
de gates is pearl ? Won't you come to him, 
sinnah ? Don't you see de pityin' look he 's 
a-givin' you, a-sayin' Come, come ? " she lost 
herself. Some irresistible power seemed dom- 
inating her, and she arose and went forward, 
dropping at the altar amid a great shouting and 

8 



ANNER 'LIZER 

clapping of hands and cries of " Bless de Lawd, 
one mo' recruit fu' de Gospel ahmy." 

Some one started the hymn, " We '11 bow 
around the altar," and the refrain was taken up 
by the congregation with a fervour that made 
the rafters of the little edifice ring again. 

The conquest of Anner 'Lizer, the belle of 
that section of Kentucky, was an event of great 
moment ; and in spite of the concentration of 
the worshippers' minds on their devotions, the 
unexpected occurrence called forth a deal of 
discussion among the brothers and sisters. 
Aunt Hannah remarked to Aunt Maria, over 
the back of the seat, that she " nevah knowed 
de gal was unner c'nviction." And Aunt 
Maria answered solemnly, " You know, sistah, 
de Lawd wuks in a myste'ious way his wondahs 
to pu'fo'm." 

Meanwhile the hymn went on, and above it 
rose the voice of the minister : " We want all 
de Christuns in de house to draw up aroun' de 
altah, whar de fiah is bu'nin' : you know in de 
wintah time when hit 's col' you crowds up clost 
to de fiahplace ; so now ef you wants to git 
spi'tually wa'm, you mus' be up whar de fiah 
is." There was a great scrambling and shuf- 

9 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

fling of feet as the members rose with one 
accord to crowd, singing, around the altar. 

Two of the rude benches had been placed 
end to end before the pulpit, so that they 
extended nearly the full width of the little 
church; and at these knelt a dozen or more 
mourners, swaying and writhing under the bur- 
den of their sins. 

The song being ended, the preacher said : 
u Brer' Adams, please tek up de cross." Dur- 
ing the momentary lull that intervened between 
the end of the song and the prayer, the wails 
and supplications of the mourners sounded out 
with weird effect. Then Brer' Adams, a white- 
haired patriarch, knelt and " took up the cross." 

Earnestly he besought the divine mercy in 
behalf of " de po' sinnahs, a-rollin' an' a-tossin' 
in de tempes' of dere sins. Lawd," he prayed, 
" come down dis evenin' in Sperit's powah to 
seek an' to save-ah ; let us heah de rumblin' 
of yo' cha'iot wheels-ah lak de thundah f'om 
Mount Sinai-ah ; oh, Lawd-ah, convert mou'nahs 
an' convict sinnahs-ah ; show 'em dat dey mus' 
die an' cain't lib an' atter death to judg-a- 
ment ; tu'n 'em aroun' befo' it is evahlastin' an' 
eternally too late." Then warming more and 

10 



ANNER 'LIZER 

more, and swaying his form back and forth, as 
he pounded the seat in emphasis, he began to 
wail out in a sort of indescribable monotone : 
" O Lawd, save de mou'nah ! " 

" Save de mou'nah ! " came the response 
from all over the church. 

" He'p 'em out of de miah an' quicksan's 
of dere sins ! " 

" He'p, Lawd ! " 

" And place deir feet upon de evahlastin' 
an' eternal rock-ah ! " 

" Do, Lawd ! " 

" O Lawd-ah, shake a dyin' sinnah ovah 
hell an' fo'bid his mighty fall-ah ! " 

" O Lawd, shake 'em ! " came from the 
congregation. 

By this time every one was worked up to a 
high state of excitement, and the prayer came 
to an end amid great commotion. Then a 
rich, mellow voice led out with : 

" Sabe de mou'nah jes' now, 
Sabe de mou'nah jes -1 now, 
Sabe de mou'nah jes' now, 
Only trust Him jes' now, 
Only trust Him jes 1 now, 
He'p de sinnah jes' now j ** 
ii 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

and so to indefinite length the mournful minor 
melody ran along like a sad brook flowing 
through autumn woods, trying to laugh and 
ripple through tears. 

Every now and then some mourner would 
spring half up, with a shriek, and then sink 
down again trembling and jerking spasmodi- 
cally. " He 's a-doubtin', he 's a-doubtin' ! " 
the cry would fly around ; " but I tell you he 
purt' nigh had it that time." 

Finally, the slender form of Anner 'Lizer began 
to sway backward and forward, like a sapling in the 
wind, and she began to mourn and weep aloud. 

" Praise de Lawd ! " shouted Aunt Hannah, 
" de po' soul 's gittin' de evidence : keep on, 
honey, de Lawd ain't fa' off." The sudden 
change attracted considerable attention, and in 
a moment a dozen or more zealous altar- 
workers gathered around Anner 'Lizer, and began 
to clap and sing with all their might, keeping 
time to the melodious cadence of their music 
with heavy foot-pats on the resounding floor. 

tf Git on boa'd-ah, little childering, 

Git on boa'd-ah, little childering, 

Git on boa'd-ah, little childering, 

Dere *s room fo 1 many mo'. 

12 



ANNER 'LIZER 

" De gospel ship is sailing 
It 's loaded down wid souls. 
If you want to mek heab'n yo 1 happy home, 
You mus' ketch it To' it goes. 
Git on boa'd, etc. 

" King Jesus at de helium, 
Fu' to guide de ship erright. 
We gwine f\T to put into heab'n's po't 
Wid ouah sails all shinin 1 white. 
Git on boa'd," etc. 

With a long dwell on the last word of the 
chorus, the mellow cadence of the song died 
away. 

" Let us bow down fu' a season of silent 
praar," said the minister. 

" Lawd, he'p us to pray," responded Uncle 
Eben Adams. 

The silence that ensued was continually 
broken by the wavering wail of the mourners. 
Suddenly one of them, a stalwart young man, 
near the opening of the aisle, began to writhe 
and twist himself into every possible contortion, 
crying: "O Lawd, de devil's a-ridin' me; tek 
him off — tek him off!" 

" Tek him off, Lawd ! " shouted the congre- 
gation. 

*3 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

Then suddenly, without warning, the mourner 
rose straight up into the air, shouting, " Halle- 
lujah, hallelujah, hallelujah ! " 

" He 's got it — he 's got it ! " cried a dozen 
eager worshippers, leaping to their feet and 
crowding around the happy convert; "bless de 
Lawd, he's got it." A voice was raised, and 
soon the church was ringing with 

" Loose him and let him go, 
Let him shout to glory." 

On went the man, shouting " Hallelujah," 
shaking hands, and bounding over seats in the 
ecstasy of his bliss. 

His conversion kindled the flame of the meet- 
ing and set the fire going. You have seen 
corn in the popper when the first kernel springs 
up and flares open, how quickly the rest follow, 
keeping up the steady pop, pop, pop ; well, 
just so it was after this first conversion. The 
mourners popped up quickly and steadily as the 
strength of the spiritual fire seemed to reach 
their swelling souls. One by one they left the 
bench on which, figuratively speaking, they 
may be said to have laid down their sins and 
proclaimed themselves possessors of religion ; 

14 



ANNER 'LIZER 

until, finally, there was but one left, and that 
one — Anner 'Lizer. She had ceased from her 
violent activity, and seemed perfectly passive 
now. 

The efforts of all were soon concentrated on 
her, and such stamping and clapping and sing- 
ing was never heard before. Such cries of 
u Jes' look up, sistah, don't you see Him at 
yo' side ? Jes' reach out yo' han' an' tech de 
hem of His ga'ment. Jes' listen, sistah, don't 
you heah de angels singin' ? don't you heah de 
rumblin' of de cha'iot wheels ? He 's a-comin', 
He 's a-comin', He 's a-comin' ! " 

But Anner 'Lizer was immovable; with her 
face lying against the hard bench, she moaned 
and prayed softly to herself. The congregation 
redoubled its exertions, but all to no effect, 
Anner 'Lizer would n't " come thoo." 

It was a strange case. 

Aunt Maria whispered to her bosom friend : 
" You min' me, Sistah Hannah, dere 's sump'n' 
on dat gal's min'." And Aunt Hannah an- 
swered : u I believe you." 

Josephine, or more commonly Phiny, a former 
belle whom Anner 'Lizer's superior charms had 
deposed, could not lose this opportunity to have 

*5 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

a fling at her successful rival. Of course such 
cases of vindictiveness in women are rare, and 
Phiny was exceptional when she whispered to 
her fellow-servant, Lucy : " I reckon she 'd git 
'ligion if Sam Me'itt was heah to see her." 
Lucy snickered, as in duty bound, and whispered 
back : " I wisht you 'd heish." 

Well, after all their singing, in spite of all 
their efforts, the time came for closing the meet- 
ing and Anner 'Lizer had not yet made a 
profession. 

She was lifted tenderly up from the mourner's 
bench by a couple of solicitous sisters, and after 
listening to the preacher's exhortation to " pray 
constantly, thoo de day an' thoo de night, in de 
highways an' de byways an' in yo' secret closet," 
she went home praying in her soul, leaving the 
rest of the congregation to loiter along the way 
and gossip over the night's events. 

All the next day Anner 'Lizer, erstwhile so 
cheerful, went about her work sad and silent ; 
every now and then stopping in the midst of 
her labours and burying her face in her neat 
white apron to sob violently. It was true, 
as Aunt Hannah expressed, that " de Sperit 

16 



ANNER 'LIZER 

had sholy tuk holt of dat gal wid a powahful 
han\" 

All of her fellow-servants knew that she was 
a mourner, and with that characteristic rever- 
ence for religion which is common to all their 
race, and not lacking even in the most hardened 
sinner among them, they respected her feelings. 
Phiny alone, when she met her, tossed her head 
and giggled openly. But Phiny's actions never 
troubled Anner 'Lizer, for she felt herself so far 
above her. Once though, in the course of the 
day, she had been somewhat disturbed, when 
she had suddenly come upon her rival, standing 
in the spring-house talking and laughing with 
Sam. She noticed, too, with a pang, that Phiny 
had tied a bow of red ribbon on her hair. She 
shut her lips and only prayed the harder. But 
an hour later, somehow, a ribbon as red as 
Phiny's had miraculously attached itself to her 
thick black plaits. Was the temporal creeping 
in with the spiritual in Anner 'Lizer's mind ? 
Who can tell ? Perhaps she thought that, 
while cultivating the one, she need not utterly 
neglect the other; and who says but that she 
was right ? 

Uncle Eben, however, did not take this view 
2 !7 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

of the matter when he came hobbling up in the 
afternoon to exhort her a little. He found Anner 
'Lizer in the kitchen washing dishes. Engrossed 
in the contemplation of her spiritual state, or 
praying for deliverance from the same, through 
the whole day she had gone about without speak- 
ing to any one. But with Uncle Eben it was, 
of course, different ; for he was a man held in 
high respect by all the negroes and, next to the 
minister, the greatest oracle in those parts ; so 
Anner 'Lizer spoke to him. 

" Howdy, Unci' Eben," she said, in a lugu- 
brious tone, as the old man hobbled in and 
settled down in a convenient corner. 

" Howdy, honey, howdy," he replied, cross- 
ing one leg over the other, as he unwound his 
long bandana, placed it in his hat, and then 
deposited his heavy cane on the white floor. 
" I jes' thought I 'd drap in to ax you how do 
you do to-day ? " 

« Po' enough, Unci' Eben, fu' sho." 
" Ain't foun' no res' fu' yo' soul yit ? " 
"No res' yit," answered Anner 'Lizer, again 
applying the apron to her already swollen eyes. 
" Um-m," sighed the old man, meditatively 
tapping his foot ; and then the gay flash of 



H '■■W^M0/m 




A VISIT FROM UNCLE EBEN. 



ANNER 'LIZER 

Anner 'Lizer's ribbon caught his eye and he 
gasped : " Bless de Lawd, Sis 'Lizer ; you don't 
mean to tell me dat you 's gwin 'bout heah 
seekin' wid yo' har tied up in ribbon ? Whut ! 
tek it off, honey, tek it off; ef yo' wants yo' 
soul saved, tek it off! " 

Anner 'Lizer hesitated, and raised her eyes 
in momentary protest ; but they met the horrified 
gaze of the old man, and she lowered them 
again as her hand went reluctantly up to her 
head to remove the offending bit of finery. 

" You see, honey," Uncle Eben went on, 
" when you sta'ts out on de Christian jou'ney, 
you 's got to lay aside evry weight dat doeth 
so easy beset you an' keeps you f'om per- 
gressin' ; y' ain't got to think nothin' 'bout pus- 
sunal 'dornment ; you 's jes' got to shet yo' eyes 
an' open yo' hea't an' say, Lawd, come ; you 
must n't wait fu' to go to chu'ch to pray, nuther, 
you mus' pray anywhar an' ev'rywhar. Why, 
when I was seekin', I ust to go 'way off up in 
de big woods to pray, an' dere 's whar de Lawd 
answered me, an' I 'm a-rejoicin' to-day in de 
powah of de same salvation. Honey, you 's 
got to pray, I tell you. You 's got to brek de 
backbone of yo' pride an' pray in carries' ; 

i 9 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

an' ef you does dat, you '11 git he'p, fu' de 
Lawd is a praar-heahin' Lawd an' plenteous in 
mussy." 

Anner 'Lizer listened attentively to the ex- 
hortation, and evidently profited by it ; for soon 
after Uncle Eben's departure she changed her 
natty little dress for one less pretentious, and 
her dainty, frilled white muslin apron gave way 
to a broad dark calico one. If grace was to be 
found by self-abnegation in the matter of dress, 
Anner 'Lizer was bound to have it at any 
price. 

As afternoon waned and night came on, she 
grew more and more serious, and more frequent 
recourse was had to the corner of her apron. 
She even failed to see Phiny when that enter- 
prising young person passed her, decked out in 
the whitest of white cuffs and collars setting off 
in pleasant contrast her neat dark dress. Phiny 
giggled again and put up her hand, ostensibly 
to brush some imaginary dust from her bosom, 
but really to show her pretty white cuffs with 
their big bone buttons. But it was all lost 
on Anner 'Lizer ; her gaze was downcast and 
her thoughts far away. If any one was ever 
" seekin' " in earnest, this girl was. 

20 



ANNER 'LIZER 

Night came, and with it the usual services. 
Anner 'Lizer was one of the earliest of the 
congregation to arrive, and she went immedi- 
ately to the mourner's bench. In the language 
of the congregation, " Eldah Johnsing sholy did 
preach a powahful sermon " that night. More 
sinners were convicted and brought to their 
knees, and, as before, these recruits were con- 
verted and Anner 'Lizer left. What was the 
matter ? 

That was the question which every one 
asked, but there were none found who could 
answer it. The circumstance was all the more 
astounding from the fact that this unsuccessful 
mourner had not been a very wicked girl. In- 
deed, it was to have been expected that she 
might shake her sins from her shoulders as 
she would discard a mantle, and step over on 
the Lord's side. But it was not so. 

But when a third night came and passed with 
the same result, it became the talk of three 
plantations. To be sure, cases were not lack- 
ing where people had " mourned " a week, two 
weeks, or even a month ; but they were woful 
sinners and those were times of less spiritual 
interest; but under circumstances so favourable 

21 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

as were now presented, that one could long 
refrain from " gittin' religion " was the wonder 
of all. So, after the third night, everybody 
wondered and talked, and not a few began to 
lean to Phiny's explanation, that " de ole snek 
in de grass had be'n a-goin' on doin' all her 
dev'ment on de sly, so 's people would n't know 
it; but de Lawd he did, an' he payin' her up 
fu' it now." 

Sam Merritt alone did not talk, and seemed 
perfectly indifferent to all that was said ; when 
he was in Phiny's company and she rallied him 
about the actions of his " gal," he remained 
silent. 

On the fourth night of Anner 'Lizer's 
mourning, the congregation gathered as usual at 
the church. For the first half-hour all went 
on as usual, and the fact that Anner 'Lizer was 
absent caused no remark, for every one thought 
she would come in later. But time passed and 
she did not come. " Eldah Johnsing's " flock 
became agitated. Of course there were other 
mourners, but the one particular one was absent ; 
hence the dissatisfaction. Every head in the 
house was turned toward the door, whenever 
it was opened by some late comer ; and around 

22 



ANNER 'LIZER 

flew the whisper, " I wunner ef she 's quit 
mou'nin' ; you ain't heerd of her gittin' 'ligion, 
have you ? " No one had. 

Meanwhile the object of their solicitude was 
praying just the same, but in a far different 
place. Grasping, as she was, at everything 
that seemed to give her promise of relief, some- 
how Uncle Eben's words had had a deep effect 
upon her. So, when night fell and her work 
was over, she had gone up into the woods to 
pray. She had prayed long without success, 
and now she was crying aloud from the very 
fulness of her heart, " O Lawd, sen' de light — 
sen' de light ! " Suddenly, as if in answer to 
her prayer, a light appeared before her some 
distance away. 

The sudden attainment of one's desires often 
shocks one ; so with our mourner. For a mo- 
ment her heart stood still and the thought came 
to her to flee ; but her mind flashed back over 
the words of one of the hymns she had heard 
down at church, " Let us walk in de light ; " 
and she knew that before she walked in the 
light she must walk toward it. So she rose and 
started in the direction of the light. How it 
flickered and flared, disappeared and reappeared, 

23 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

rose and fell, even as her spirits, as she stumbled 
and groped her way over fallen logs and through 
briers. Her limbs were bruised and her dress 
torn by the thorns. But she heeded it not, she 
had fixed her eye — physical and spiritual — on 
the light before her. It drew her with an irre- 
sistible fascination. Suddenly she stopped. An 
idea had occurred to her ! Maybe this light 
was a Jack-o'-lantern ! For a moment she 
hesitated, then promptly turned her pocket 
wrong side out, murmuring, " De Lawd '11 tek 
keer o' me." On she started; but, lo! the light 
had disappeared ! What ! had the turning of 
the pocket indeed worked so potent a charm ? 

But no ! it reappeared as she got beyond 
the intervention of a brush pile which had ob- 
scured it. The light grew brighter as she grew 
fainter ; but she clasped her hands and raised 
her eyes in unwavering faith, for she found 
that the beacon did not recede, but glowed with 
a steady and stationary flame. 

As she drew near, the sound of sharp strokes 
came to her ears, and she wondered. Then, as 
she slipped into the narrow circle of light, she 
saw that it was made by a taper which was set 
on a log. The strokes came from a man who 

24 



ANNER 'LIZER 

was chopping down a tree in which a 'coon 
seemed to have taken refuge. It needed no 
second glance at the stalwart shoulders to tell 
her that the man was — Sam. Her step at- 
tracted his attention, and he turned. 

" Sam ! " 

" Anner 'Lizer ! " 

And then they both stood still, too amazed 
to speak. Finally she walked across to where 
he was standing, and said : " Sam, I did n't 
come out heah to fin' you, but de Lawd has 
'p'inted it so, 'ca'se he knowed I orter speak to 
you." Sam leaned hopelessly on his axe ; he 
thought she was going to exhort him. 

Anner 'Lizer went on : " Sam, you 's my 
stumblin' block in de highroad to salvation ; I 's 
be'n tryin' to git 'ligion fu' fou' nights, an' I 
cain't do it jes' on yo' 'count ; I prays an' 
I prays, an' jes' as I 's a'mos' got it, jes' as I 
begin to heah de cha'iot wheels a-rollin', yo' 
face comes right in 'tween an' drives it all away. 
Tell me, now, Sam, so 's to put me out ov my 
'spense, does you want to ma'y me, er is you 
goin' to ma'y Phiny ? I jes' wants you to tell 
me, not dat I keers pussonally, but so 's my 
min' kin be at res' spi'tu'lly, an' I kin git 'ligion. 

25 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

Jes' say yes er no; I wants to be settled one 
way er 't other." 

" Anner 'Lizer," said Sam, reproachfully, 
u you know I wants to ma'y you jes' ez soon 
ez Mas' Rob '11 let me." 

" Dere now," said Anner 'Lizer, " bless de 
Lawd ! " And, somehow, Sam had dropped 
the axe and was holding her in his arms. 

It boots not whether the 'coon was caught 
that night or not ; but it is a fact that Anner 
'Lizer set the whole place afire by getting re- 
ligion at home early the next morning. And the 
same night the minister announced " dat de 
Lawd had foun' out de sistah's stumblin' block 
an' removed it f'om de path." 



26 



THE ORDEAL AT 
MT. HOPE 



27 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

" And this is Mt. Hope," said the Rev. Howard 
Dokesbury to himself as he descended, bag in 
hand, from the smoky, dingy coach, or part of 
a coach, which was assigned to his people, and 
stepped upon the rotten planks of the station 
platform. The car he had just left was not a 
palace, nor had his reception by his fellow- 
passengers or his intercourse with them been of 
such cordial nature as to endear them to him. 
But he watched the choky little engine with 
its three black cars wind out of sight with a 
look as regretful as if he were witnessing the 
departure of his dearest friend. Then he turned 
his attention again to his surroundings, and a 
sigh welled up from his heart. "And this, is 
Mt. Hope," he repeated. A note in his voice 
indicated that he fully appreciated the spirit of 
keen irony in which the place had been named. 
The colour scheme of the picture that met 
his eyes was in dingy blacks and grays. The 

29 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

building that held the ticket, telegraph, and 
train despatchers' offices was a miserably old 
ramshackle affair, standing well in the foreground 
of this scene of gloom and desolation. Its win- 
dows were so coated with smoke and grime that 
they seemed to have been painted over in order 
to secure secrecy within. Here and there a lazy 
cur lay drowsily snapping at the flies, and at the 
end of the station, perched on boxes or leaning 
against the wall, making a living picture of equal 
laziness, stood a group of idle Negroes exchang- 
ing rude badinage with their white counterparts 
across the street. 

After a while this bantering interchange would 
grow more keen and personal, a free-for-all 
friendly fight would follow, and the newspaper 
correspondent in that section would write it up 
as a " race war." But this had not happened 
yet that day. 

" This is Mt. Hope," repeated the new-comer ; 
" this is the field of my labours." 

Rev. Howard Dokesbury, as may already 
have been inferred, was a Negro, — there could 
be no mistake about that. The deep dark brown 
of his skin, the rich over-fulness of his lips, and 
the close curl of his short black hair were evi- 

3° 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

dences that admitted of no argument. He was 
a finely proportioned, stalwart-looking man, with 
a general air of self-possession and self-sufficiency 
in his manner. There was firmness in the set 
of his lips. A reader of character would have 
said of him, " Here is a man of solid judgment, 
careful in deliberation, prompt in execution, and 
decisive.' , 

It was the perception in him of these very 
qualities which had prompted the authorities of 
the little college where he had taken his degree 
and received his theological training, to urge him 
to go among his people at the South, and there 
to exert his powers for good where the field was 
broad and the labourers few. 

Born of Southern parents from whom he had 
learned many of the superstitions and traditions 
of the South, Howard Dokesbury himself had 
never before been below Mason and Dixon's line. 
But with a confidence born of youth and a con- 
sciousness of personal power, he had started 
South with the idea that he knew the people 
with whom he had to deal, and was equipped 
with the proper weapons to cope with their 
shortcomings. 

But as he looked around upon the scene which 

3i 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

now met his eye, a doubt arose in his mind. 
He picked up his bag with a sigh, and approached 
a man who had been standing apart from the 
rest of the loungers and regarding him with 
indolent intentness. 

" Could you direct me to the house of Stephen 
Gray ? " asked the minister. 

The .interrogated took time to change his 
position from left foot to right and to shift his 
quid, before he drawled forth, " I reckon you 's 
de new Mefdis preachah, huh ? " 

" Yes," replied Howard, in the most concilia- 
tory tone he could command, " and I hope I 
find in you one of my flock." 

"No, suh, I's a Babtist myse'f. I wa' n't 
raised up no place erroun' Mt. Hope ; I 'm na- 
chelly f'om way up in Adams County. Dey jes' 
sont me down hyeah to fin' you an' to tek you 
up to Steve's. Steve, he 's workin' to-day an' 
could n't come down." 

He laid particular stress upon the " to-day," 
as if Steve's spell of activity were not an every- 
day occurrence. 

" Is it far from here ? " asked Dokesbury. 

" 'T ain't mo' 'n a mile an' a ha'f by de shawt 
cut." 

32 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

" Well, then, let 's take the short cut, by all 
means," said the preacher. 

They trudged along for a while in silence, and 
then the young man asked, " What do you men 
about here do mostly for a living ? " 

" Oh, well, we does odd jobs, we saws an' 
splits wood an' totes bundles, an' some of 'em 
raises gyahden, but mos' of us, we fishes. De 
fish bites an' we ketches 'em. Sometimes we 
eats 'em an' sometimes we sells 'em ; a string 
o' fish '11 bring a peck o' co'n any time." 

" And is that all you do ? " 

"'Bout." 

" Why, I don't see how you live that way." 

" Oh, we lives all right," answered the man ; 
" we has plenty to eat an' drink, an' clothes to 
wear, an' some place to stay. I reckon folks 
ain't got much use fu' nufiin' mo'." 

Dokesbury sighed. Here indeed was virgin 
soil for his ministerial labours. His spirits 
were not materially raised when, some time later, 
he came in sight of the house which was to be 
his abode. To be sure, it was better than most 
of the houses which he had seen in the Negro 
part of Mt. Hope ; but even at that it was far 
from being good or comfortable-looking. It 
3 33 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

was small and mean in appearance. The 
weather boarding was broken, and in some places 
entirely fallen away, showing the great unhewn 
logs beneath ; while off the boards that re- 
mained the whitewash had peeled in scrofulous 
spots. 

The minister's guide went up to the closed 
door, and rapped loudly v/ith a heavy stick. 

" G' 'way f'om dah, an' quit you' foolin'," 
came in a large voice from within. 

The guide grinned, and rapped again. There 
was a sound of shuffling feet and the pushing 
back of a chair, and then the same voice saying : 
" I bet I '11 mek you git away f'om dat do'." 

" Dat 's A'nt Ca'line," the guide said, and 
laughed. 

The door was flung back as quickly as its 
worn hinges and sagging bottom would allow, 
and a large body surmounted by a face like a 
big round full moon presented itself in the 
opening. A broomstick showed itself ag- 
gressively in one fat shiny hand. 

" It 's you, Tom Scott, is it — you trif 'nin' — " 
and then, catching sight of the stranger, her whole 
manner changed, and she dropped the broomstick 
with an embarrassed " 'Scuse me, suh." 

34 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

Tom chuckled all over as he said, " A'nt 
Ca'line, dis is yo' new preachah." 

The big black face lighted up with a broad 
smile as the old woman extended her hand and 
enveloped that of the young minister's. 

" Come in," she said. " I 's mighty glad to 
see you — that no-'count Tom come put' nigh 
mekin' me 'spose myse'f." Then turning to 
Tom, she exclaimed with good-natured severity, 
u An' you go 'long, you scoun'll you ! '" 

The preacher entered the cabin — it was 
hardly more ■ — and seated himself in the rush- 
bottomed chair which A'nt Ca'line had been 
industriously polishing with her apron. 

" An' now, Brothah — " 

" Dokesbury," supplemented the young man. 

" Brothah Dokesbury, I jes' want you to 
mek yo'se'f at home right erway. I know 
you ain't use to ouah ways down hyeah ; but you 
jes' got to set in an' git ust to 'em. You 
mus' n't feel bad ef things don't go yo' way f'om 
de ve'y fust. Have you got a mammy ? " 

The question was very abrupt, and a lump 
suddenly jumped up in Dokesbury's throat and 
pushed the water into his eyes. He did have a 
mother away back there at home. She was all 

35 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

alone, and he was her heart and the hope of her 
life. 

" Yes," he said, "• I 've got a little mother up 
there in Ohio." 

" Well, I 's gwine to be yo' mothah down 
hyeah ; dat is, ef I ain't too rough an' common 
fu' you." 

" Hush ! " exclaimed the preacher, and he 
got up and took the old lady's hand in both 
of his own. " You shall be my mother down 
here ; you shall help me, as you have done to- 
day. I feel better already." 

" I knowed you would ; " and the old face 
beamed on the young one. " An' now jes' go 
out de do' dah an' wash yo' face. Dey 's a 
pan an' soap an' watah right dah, an' hyeah 's 
a towel ; den you kin go right into yo' room, 
fu' I knows you want to be erlone fu' a while. 
I '11 fix yo' suppah while you rests." 

He did as he was bidden. On a rough bench 
outside the door, he found a basin and a bucket 
of water with a tin dipper in it. To one side, 
in a broken saucer, lay a piece of coarse soap. 
The facilities for copious ablutions were not 
abundant, but one thing the minister noted with 
pleasure : the towel, which was rough and hurt 

36 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

his skin, was, nevertheless, scrupulously clean. 
He went to his room feeling fresher and better, 
and although he found the place little and dark 
and warm, it too was clean, and a sense of 
its homeness began to take possession of him. 

The room was off the main living-room 
into which he had been first ushered. It had 
one small window that opened out on a fairly 
neat yard. A table with a chair before it stood 
beside the window, and across the room — if 
the three feet of space which intervened could 
be called " across " — stood the little bed with 
its dark calico quilt and white pillows. There 
was no carpet on the floor, and the absence of 
a washstand indicated very plainly that the occu- 
pant was expected to wash outside. The young 
minister knelt for a few minutes beside the bed, 
and then rising cast himself into the chair to 
rest. 

It was possibly half an hour later when his 
partial nap was broken in upon by the sound of 
a gruff voice from without saying, " He 's hyeah, 
is he — oomph ! Well, what 's he ac' lak ? 
Want us to git down on ouah knees an' crawl 
to him ? If he do, I reckon he '11 fin' dat Mt. 
Hope ain't de place fo' him." 

37 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

The minister did not hear the answer, which 
was in a low voice and came, he conjectured, 
from Aunt ' Ca'line ' ; but the gruff voice sub- 
sided, and there was the sound of footsteps going 
out of the room. A tap came on the preacher's 
door, and he opened it to the old woman. She 
smiled reassuringly. 

" Dat 'uz my ol' man," she said. " I sont 
him out to git some wood, so 's I 'd have time 
to post you. Don't you mind him ; he 's lots 
mo' ba'k dan bite. He 's one o' dese little 
yaller men, an' you know dey kin be powahful 
contra'y when dey sets dey hai'd to it. But jes' 
you treat him nice an' don't let on, an' I '11 be 
boun' you '11 bring him erroun' in little er no 
time." 

The Rev. Mr. Dokesbury received this advice 
with some misgiving. Albeit he had assumed 
his pleasantest manner when, after his return to 
the living-room, the little " yaller " man came 
through the door with his bundle of wood. 

He responded cordially to Aunt Caroline's, 
" Dis is my husband, Brothah Dokesbury," and 
heartily shook his host's reluctant hand. 

" I hope I find you well, Brother Gray," he 
said. 

38 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

" Moder't, jes' moder't," was the answer. 

" Come to suppah now, bofe o' you," said 
the old lady, and they all sat down to the even- 
ing meal, of crisp bacon, well-fried potatoes, 
egg-pone, and coffee. 

The young man did his best to be agreeable, 
but it was rather discouraging to receive only 
gruff monosyllabic rejoinders to his most in- 
teresting observations. But the cheery old wife 
came bravely to the rescue, and the minister 
was continually floated into safety on the flow 
of her conversation. Now and then, as he 
talked, he could catch a stealthy upflashing of 
Stephen Gray's eye, as suddenly lowered again, 
that told him that the old man was listening. 
But, as an indication that they would get on 
together, the supper, taken as a whole, was not 
a success. The evening that followed proved 
hardly more fortunate. About the only remarks 
that could be elicited from the " little yaller man " 
were a reluctant " oomph " or " oomph-uh." 

It was just before going to bed that, after a 
period of reflection, Aunt Caroline began slowly : 
"We got a son" — her husband immediately 
bristled up and his eyes flashed, but the old 
woman went on ; " he named 'Lias, an' we thinks 

39 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

a heap o' 'Lias, we does ; but — " the old man 
had subsided, but he bristled up again at the 
word — " he ain't jes' whut we want him to 
be." Her husband opened his mouth as if to 
speak in defence of his son, but was silent in 
satisfaction at his wife's explanation : " 'Lias 
ain't bad ; he jes' ca'less. Sometimes he stays 
at home, but right sma't o' de time he stays 
down at" — she looked at her husband and 
hesitated — " at de colo'ed s'loon. We don't 
lak dat. It ain't no fitten place fu' him. But 
'Lias ain't bad, he jes' ca'less, an' me an' de 
oP man we 'membahs him in ouah pra'ahs, an' 
I jes' t'ought I 'd ax you to 'membah him too, 
Brothah Dokesbury." 

The minister felt the old woman's pleading 
look and the husband's intense gaze upon his 
face, and suddenly there came to him an inti- 
mate sympathy in their trouble and with it an 
unexpected strength. 

" There is no better time than now," he said, 
" to take his case to the Almighty Power ; let 
us pray." 

Perhaps it was the same prayer he had prayed 
many times before ; perhaps the words of sup- 
plication and the plea for light and guidance 

40 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

were the same ; but somehow to the young man 
kneeling there amid those humble surroundings, 
with the sorrow of these poor ignorant people 
weighing upon his heart, it seemed very differ- 
ent. It came more fervently from his lips, and 
the words had a deeper meaning. When he 
arose, there was a warmth at his heart just the 
like of which he had never before experienced. 

Aunt Caroline blundered up from her knees, 
saying, as she wiped her eyes, " Blessed is dey 
dat mou'n, fu' dey shall be comfo'ted." The 
old man, as he turned to go to bed, shook the 
young man's hand warmly and in silence; but 
there was a moisture in the old eyes that told 
the minister that his plummet of prayer had 
sounded the depths. 

Alone in his own room Howard Dokesbury 
sat down to study the situation in which he had 
been placed. Had his thorough college training 
anticipated specifically any such circumstance as 
this ? After all, did he know his own people ? 
Was it possible that they could be so different 
from what he had seen and known ? He had 
always been such a loyal Negro, so proud of his 
honest brown ; but had he been mistaken ? 
Was he, after all, different from the majority 

4i 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

of the people with whom he was supposed to 
have all thoughts, feelings, and emotions in 
common ? 

These and other questions he asked himself 
without being able to arrive at any satisfactory 
conclusion. He did not go to sleep soon after 
retiring, and the night brought many thoughts. 
The next day would be Saturday. The ordeal 
had already begun, — now there were twenty- 
four hours between him and the supreme trial. 
What would be its outcome ? There were mo- 
ments when he felt, as every man, howsoever 
brave, must feel at times, that he would like to 
shift all his responsibilities and go away from 
the place that seemed destined to tax his powers 
beyond their capability of endurance. What 
could he do for the inhabitants of Mt. Hope ? 
What was required of him to do ? Ever 
through his mind ran that world-old question: 
"Am I my brother's keeper ? " He had never 
asked, " Are these people my brothers ? " 

He was up early the next morning, and as 
soon as breakfast was done, he sat down to add 
a few touches to the sermon he had prepared as 
his introduction. It was not the first time that 
he had retouched it and polished it up here and 

42 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

there. Indeed, he had taken some pride in it. 
But as he read it over that day, it did not sound 
to him as it had sounded before. It appeared 
flat and without substance. After a while he 
laid it aside, telling himself that he was nervous 
and it was on this account that he could not see 
matters as he did in his calmer moments. He 
told himself, too, that he must not again take 
up the offending discourse until time to use it, 
lest the discovery of more imaginary flaws should 
so weaken his confidence that he would not be 
able to deliver it with effect. 

In order better to keep his resolve, he put on 
his hat and went out for a walk through the 
streets of Mt. Hope. He did not find an en- 
couraging prospect as he went along. The 
Negroes whom he met viewed him with ill- 
favour, and the whites who passed looked on 
him with unconcealed distrust and contempt. 
He began to feel lost, alone, and helpless. The 
squalor and shiftlessness which were plainly in 
evidence about the houses which he saw filled 
him with disgust and a dreary hopelessness. 

He passed vacant lots which lay open and 
inviting children to healthful play ; but instead 
of marbles or leap-frog or ball, he found little 

43 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

boys in ragged knickerbockers huddled together 
on the ground, u shooting craps'' with preco- 
cious avidity and quarrelling over the pennies 
that made the pitiful wagers. He heard glib 
profanity rolling from the lips of children who 
should have been stumbling through baby cate- 
chisms ; and his heart ached for them. 

He would have turned and gone back to his 
room, but the sound of shouts, laughter, and 
the tum-tum of a musical instrument drew him 
on down the street. At the turn of a corner, 
the place from which the noise emanated met 
his eyes. It was a rude frame building, low and 
unpainted. The panes in its windows whose 
places had not been supplied by sheets of tin 
were daubed a dingy red. Numerous kegs and 
bottles on the outside attested the nature of the 
place. The front door was open, but the inte- 
rior was concealed by a gaudy curtain stretched 
across the entrance within. Over the door 
was the inscription, in straggling characters, 
" Sander's Place ; " and when he saw half-a- 
dozen Negroes enter, the minister knew instantly 
that he now beheld the colored saloon which 
was the frequenting-place of his hostess's son 
'Lias ; and he wondered, if, as the mother said, 

44 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

her boy was not bad, how anything good could 
be preserved in such a place of evil. 

The cries and boisterous laughter mingled 
with the strumming of the banjo and the shuf- 
fling of feet told him that they were engaged in 
one of their rude hoe-down dances. He had 
not passed a dozen paces beyond the door when 
the music was suddenly stopped, the sound of a 
quick blow followed, then ensued a scuffle, and 
a young fellow half ran, half fell through the 
open door. He was closely followed by a 
heavily built ruffian who was striking him as he 
ran. The young fellow was very much the 
weaker and slighter of the two, and was suffer- 
ing great punishment. In an instant all the 
preacher's sense of justice was stung into sudden 
life. Just as the brute was about to give his 
victim a blow that would have sent him into 
the gutter, he felt his arm grasped in a detain- 
ing hold and heard a commanding voice, — 
« Stop ! " 

He turned with increased fury upon this 
meddler, but his other wrist was caught and held 
in a vice-like grip. For a moment the two men 
looked into each other's eyes. Hot words rose 
to the young man's lips, but he choked them 

45 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

back. Until this moment he had deplored the 
possession of a spirit so easily fired that it had 
been a test of his manhood to keep from " slug- 
ging " on the football field ; now he was glad of 
it. He did not attempt to strike the man, but 
stood holding his arms and meeting the brute 
glare with manly flashing eyes. Either the 
natural cowardice of the bully or something in 
his new opponent's face had quelled the big fel- 
low's spirit, and he said doggedly : " Lemme go. 
I was n't a-go'n' to kill him nohow, but ef I 
ketch him dancin' with my gal anymo', I '11 — " 
He cast a glance full of malice at his victim, who 
stood on the pavement a few feet away, as much 
amazed as the dumfounded crowd which thronged 
the door of u Sander's Place." Loosing his 
hold, the preacher turned, and, putting his hand 
on the young fellow's shoulder, led him away. 

For a time they walked on in silence. Dokes- 
bury had to calm the tempest in his breast 
before he could trust his voice. After a while he 
said : " That fellow was making it pretty hot for 
you, my young friend. What had you done to 
him ? " 

" Nothin'," replied the other. " I was jes' 
dancin' 'long an' not thinkin' 'bout him, when 

46 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

all of a sudden he hollered dat I had his gal an' 
commenced hittin' me." 

" He 's a bully and a coward, or he would not 
have made use of his superior strength in that 
way. What 's your name, friend ? " 

" 'Lias Gray," was the answer, which startled 
the minister into exclaiming, — 

" What ! are you Aunt Caroline's son ? " 

" Yes, suh, I sho is ; does you know my 
mothah ? " 

u Why, I 'm stopping with her, and we were 
talking about you last night. My name is 
Dokesbury, and I am to take charge of the 
church here." 

" I thought mebbe you was a preachah, but I 
could n't scarcely believe it after I seen de way 
you held Sam an' looked at him." 

Dokesbury laughed, and his merriment seemed 
to make his companion feel better, for the sullen, 
abashed look left his face, and he laughed a little 
himself as he said : " I was n't a-pesterin' Sam, 
but I tell you he pestered me mighty." 

Dokesbury looked into the boy's face, — he 
was hardly more than a boy, — lit up as it was 
by a smile, and concluded that Aunt Caroline was 
right. 'Lias might be c ca'less,' but he was n't 

47 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

a bad boy. The face was too open and the 
eyes too honest for that. 'Lias was n't bad ; but 
environment does so much, and he would be if 
something were not done for him. Here, then, 
was work for a pastor's hands. 

" You '11 walk on home with me, 'Lias, won't 
you ? " 

u I reckon I mout ez well," replied the boy. 
" I don't stay erroun' home ez much ez I 
oughter." 

" You '11 be around more, of course, now 
that I am there. It will be so much less lone- 
some for two young people than for one. Then, 
you can be a great help to me, too." 

The preacher did not look down to see how 
wide his listener's eyes grew as he answered: 
" Oh, I ain't fittin' to be no he'p to you, suh. 
Fust thing, I ain't nevah got religion, an' then I 
ain't well larned enough." 

u Oh, there are a thousand other ways in which 
you can help, and I feel sure that you will." 

" Of co'se, I '11 do de ve'y bes' I kin." 

cc There is one thing I want you to do soon, 
as a favour to me." 

" I can't go to de mou'nah's bench," cried 
the boy, in consternation. 

48 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

" And I don't want you to," was the calm 
reply. 

Another look of wide-eyed astonishment took 
in the preacher's face. These were strange 
words from one of his guild. But without 
noticing the surprise he had created, Dokesbury 
went on : " What I want is that you will take 
me fishing as soon as you can. I never get 
tired of fishing and I am anxious to go here. 
Tom Scott says you fish a great deal about 
here." 

" Why, we kin go dis ve'y afternoon," ex- 
claimed 'Lias, in relief and delight ; " I 's mighty 
fond o' fishin', myse'f." 

" All right; I 'm in your hands from now on." 

'Lias drew his shoulders up, with an uncon- 
scious motion. The preacher saw it, and men- 
tally rejoiced. He felt that the first thing the 
boy beside him needed was a consciousness of 
responsibility, and the lifted shoulders meant prog- 
ress in that direction, a sort of physical straight- 
ening up to correspond with the moral one. 

On seeing her son walk in with the minister, 
Aunt c Ca'line's ' delight was boundless. u La ! 
Brothah Dokesbury," she exclaimed, " wha 'd 
you fin' dat scamp ? " 

4 49 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

" Oh, down the street here," the young man 
replied lightly. " I got hold of his name and 
made myself acquainted, so he came home to 
go fishing with me." 

" 'Lias is pow'ful fan' o' fishin', hisse'f. I 
'low he kin show you some mighty good places. 
Cain't you, 'Lias ? " 

" I reckon." 

'Lias was thinking. He was distinctly grate- 
ful that the circumstances of his meeting with 
the minister had been so deftly passed over. But 
with a half idea of the superior moral reponsi- 
bility under which a man in Dokesbury's posi- 
tion laboured, he wondered vaguely — to put it 
in his own thought-words — u ef de preachah 
had n't put' nigh lied." However, he was will- 
ing to forgive this little lapse of veracity, if such 
it was, out of consideration for the anxiety it 
spared his mother. 

When Stephen Gray came in to dinner, he 
was no less pleased than his wife to note the 
terms of friendship on which the minister re- 
ceived his son. On his face was the first smile 
that Dokesbury had seen there, and he awakened 
from his taciturnity and proffered much infor- 
mation as to the fishing-places thereabout. The 

5° 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

young minister accounted this a distinct gain. 
Anything more than a frowning silence from 
the " little yaller man " was gain. 

The fishing that afternoon was particularly 
good. Catfish, chubs, and suckers were landed 
in numbers sufficient to please the heart of any 
amateur angler. 

'Lias was happy, and the minister was in the 
best of spirits, for his charge seemed promising. 
He looked on at the boy's jovial face, and laughed 
within himself; for, mused he, "it is so much 
harder for the devil to get into a cheerful heart 
than into a sullen, gloomy one." By the time 
they were ready to go home Harold Dokesbury 
had received a promise from 'Lias to attend 
service the next morning and hear the sermon. 

There was a great jollification over the fish 
supper that night, and 'Lias and the minister 
were the heroes of the occasion. The old man 
again broke his silence, and recounted, with in- 
finite dryness, ancient tales of his prowess with 
rod and line ; while Aunt c Ca'line ' told of fa- 
mous fish suppers that in the bygone days she had 
cooked for " de white folks." In the midst of 
it all, however, 'Lias disappeared. No one had 
noticed when he slipped out, but all seemed to 

5* 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

become conscious of his absence about the same 
time. The talk shifted, and finally simmered 
into silence. 

When the Rev. Mr. Dokesbury went to bed 
that night, his charge had not yet returned. 

The young minister woke early on the Sab- 
bath morning, and he may be forgiven that the 
prospect of the ordeal through which he had to 
pass drove his care for 'Lias out of mind for the 
first few hours. But as he walked to church, 
flanked on one side by Aunt Caroline in the 
stiffest of ginghams and on the other by her 
husband stately in the magnificence of an anti- 
quated " Jim-swinger," his mind went back to 
the boy with sorrow. Where was he ? What 
was he doing ? Had the fear of a dull church 
service frightened him back to his old habits and 
haunts ? There was a new sadness at the 
preacher's heart as he threaded his way down 
the crowded church and ascended the rude 
pulpit. 

The church was stiflingly hot, and the morn- 
ing sun still beat relentlessly in through the 
plain windows. The seats were rude wooden 
benches, in some instances without backs. To 
the right, filling the inner corner, sat the pillars 

52 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

of the church, stern, grim, and critical. Opposite 
them, and, like them, in seats at right angles to 
the main body, sat the older sisters, some of 
them dressed with good old-fashioned simplicity, 
while others yielding to newer tendencies were 
gotten up in gaudy attempts at finery. In the 
rear seats a dozen or so much beribboned 
mulatto girls tittered and giggled, and cast bold 
glances at the minister. 

The young man sighed as he placed the manu- 
script of his sermon between the leaves of the 
tattered Bible. " And this is Mt. Hope," he 
was again saying to himself. 

It was after the prayer and in the midst 
of the second hymn that a more pronounced 
titter from the back seats drew his attention. 
He raised his head to cast a reproving glance at 
the irreverent, but the sight that met his eyes 
turned that look into one of horror. 'Lias had 
just entered the church, and with every mark of 
beastly intoxication was staggering up the aisle 
to a seat, into which he tumbled in a drunken 
heap. The preacher's soul turned sick within 
him, and his eyes sought the face of the mother 
and father. The old woman was wiping her 
eyes, and the old man sat with his gaze bent 

53 



FOLK FROM DIXIE 

upon the floor, lines of sorrow drawn about his 
wrinkled mouth. 

All of a sudden a great revulsion of feeling 
came over Dokesbury. Trembling he rose and 
opened the Bible. There lay his sermon, pol- 
ished and perfected. The opening lines seemed 
to him like glints from a bright cold crystal. 
What had he to say to these people, when the 
full realisation of human sorrow and care and 
of human degradation had just come to him ? 
What had they to do with firstlies and secondlies, 
with premises and conclusions ? What they 
wanted was a strong hand to help them over 
the hard places of life and a loud voice to cheer 
them through the dark. He closed the book 
again upon his precious sermon. A something 
new had been born in his heart. He let his 
glance rest for another instant on the mother's 
pained face and the father's bowed form, and 
then turning to the congregation began, " Come 
unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, 
and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon 
you, and learn of me : for I am meek and lowly 
in heart : and ye shall find rest unto your souls." 
Out of the fulness of his heart he spoke unto 
them. Their great need informed his utterance. 

54 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

He forgot his carefully turned sentences and 
perfectly rounded periods. He forgot all save 
that here was the well-being of a community 
put into his hands whose real condition he had 
not even suspected until now. The situation 
wrought him up. His words went forth like 
winged fire, and the emotional people were 
moved beyond control. They shouted, and 
clapped their hands, and praised the Lord loudly. 

When the service was over, there was much 
gathering about the young preacher, and hand- 
shaking. Through all 'Lias had slept. His 
mother started toward him ; but the minister 
managed to whisper to her, " Leave him to me." 
When the congregation had passed out, Dokes- 
bury shook 'Lias. The boy woke, partially 
sobered, and his face fell before the preacher's 
eyes. 

" Come, my boy, let 's go home." Arm in 
arm they went out into the street, where a 
number of scoffers had gathered to have a laugh 
at the abashed boy ; but Harold Dokesbury's 
strong arm steadied his steps, and something in 
his face checked the crowd's hilarity. Silently 
they cleared the way, and the two passed among 
them and went home. 

55 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

The minister saw clearly the things which 
he had to combat in his community, and through 
this one victim he determined to fight the gen- 
eral evil. The people with whom he had to 
deal were children who must be led by the 
hand. The boy lying in drunken sleep upon 
his bed was no worse than the rest of them. 
He was an epitome of the evil, as his parents 
were of the sorrows, of the place. 

He could not talk to Elias. He could not 
lecture him. He would only be dashing his 
words against the accumulated evil of years of 
bondage as the ripples of a summer sea beat 
against a stone wall. It was not the wickedness 
of this boy he was fighting or even the wrong- 
doing of Mt. Hope. It was the aggregation 
of the evils of the fathers, the grandfathers, the 
masters and mistresses of these people. Against 
this what could talk avail ? 

The boy slept on, and the afternoon passed 
heavily away. Aunt Caroline was finding sol- 
ace in her pipe, and Stephen Gray sulked in 
moody silence beside the hearth. Neither of 
them joined their guest at evening service. 

He went, however. It was hard to face 
those people again after the events of the morn- 

56 




"aunt caline was finding SOLACE in the pipk 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

ing. He could feel them covertly nudging each 
other and grinning as he went up to the pulpit. 
He chided himself for the momentary annoy- 
ance it caused him. Were they not like so 
many naughty, irresponsible children ? 

The service passed without unpleasantness, 
save that he went home with an annoyingly 
vivid impression of a yellow girl with red rib- 
bons on her hat, who pretended to be impressed 
by his sermon and made eyes at him from 
behind her handkerchief. 

On the way to his room that night, as he 
passed Stephen Gray, the old man whispered 
huskily, " It 's de fus' time 'Lias evah done 
dat." 

It was the only word he had spoken since 
morning. 

A sound sleep refreshed Dokesbury, and re- 
stored the tone to his overtaxed nerves. When 
he came out in the morning, Elias was already 
in the kitchen. He too had slept off his indis- 
position, but it had been succeeded by a painful 
embarrassment that proved an effectual barrier 
to all intercourse with him. The minister 
talked lightly and amusingly, but the boy never 
raised his eyes from his plate, and only spoke 

57 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

when he was compelled to answer some direct 
questions. 

Harold Dokesbury knew that unless he could 
overcome this reserve, his power over the youth 
was gone. He bent every effort to do it. 

" What do you say to a turn down the street 
with me ? " he asked as he rose from breakfast. 

'Lias shook his head. 

"What! You haven't deserted me already?" 

The older people had gone out, but young 
Gray looked furtively about before he replied : 
" You know I ain't fittin' to go out with you — 
aftah — aftah — yestiddy." 

A dozen appropriate texts rose in the 
preacher's mind, but he knew that it was not 
a preaching time, so he contented himself with 
saying, — 

" Oh, get out ! Come along ! " 

"No, I cain't. I cain't. I wisht I could! 
You need n't think I 's ashamed, 'cause I ain't. 
Plenty of 'em git drunk, an' I don't keer nothin' 
'bout dat " — this in a defiant tone. 

" Well, why not come along, then ? " 

" I tell you I cain't. Don't ax me no mo'. 
It ain't on my account I won't go. It 's you." 

" Me ! Why, I want you to go." 

58 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

a I know you does, but I must n't. Cain't 
you see that dey 'd be glad to say dat — dat you 
was in cahoots wif me an' you tuk yo' dram 
on de sly ? '"' 

" I don't care what they say so long as it is n't 
true. Are you coming ? " 

" No, I ain't." 

He was perfectly determined, and Dokesbury 
saw that there was no use arguing with him. 
So with a resigned " All right ! " he strode out the 
gate and up the street, thinking of the problem 
he had to solve. 

There was good in Elias Gray, he knew. It 
was a shame that it should be lost. It would 
be lost unless he were drawn strongly away from 
the paths he was treading. But how could it 
be done ? Was there no point in his mind that 
could be reached by what was other than evil ? 
That was the thing to be found out. Then he 
paused to ask himself if, after all, he were not 
trying to do too much, — trying, in fact, to play 
Providence to Elias. He found himself in- 
voluntarily wanting to shift the responsibility of 
planning for the youth. He wished that some- 
thing entirely independent of his intentions 
would happen. 

59 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

Just then something did happen. A piece 
of soft mud hurled from some unknown source 
caught the minister square in the chest, and 
spattered over his clothes. He raised his eyes 
and glanced about quickly, but no one was in 
sight. Whoever the foe was, he was securely 
ambushed. 

" Thrown by the hand of a man," mused 
Dokesbury, " prompted by the malice of a 
child." 

Fie went on his way, finished his business, 
and returned to the house. 

" La, Brothah Dokesbury ! " exclaimed Aunt 
Caroline, " what 's de mattah 'f yo' shu't 
bosom ? " 

" Oh, that 's where one of our good citizens 
left his card." 

u You don' mean to say none o' dem low-life 
scoun'els — " 

" I don't know who did it. He took particu- 
lar pains to keep out of sight." 

" 'Lias ! " the old woman cried, turning on 
her son, " wha' 'd you let Brothah Dokesbury go 
off by hisse'f fu' ? Why n't you go 'long an' 
tek keer o' him ? " 

The old lady stopped even in the midst of 

60 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

her tirade, as her eyes took in the expression on 
her son's face. 

"I '11 kill some o' dem damn — " 

« 'Lias ! " 

" 'Scuse me, Mistah Dokesbury, but I feel 
lak I '11 bus' ef I don't 'spress myse'f. It 
makes me so mad. Don't you go out o' hyeah 
no mo' 'dout me. I '11 go 'long an' I '11 brek 
somebody's haid wif a stone." 

" 'Lias ! how you talkin' fo' de ministah ? " 

" Well, dat's whut I '11 do, 'cause I kin out- 
th'ow any of 'em an' I know dey hidin'- 
places." 

" I '11 be glad to accept your protection," 
said Dokesbury. 

He saw his advantage, and was thankful for 
the mud, — the one thing that without an effort 
restored the easy relations between himself and 
his protege. 

Ostensibly these relations were reversed, and 
Elias went out with the preacher as a guardian 
and protector. But the minister was laying his 
nets. It was on one of these rambles that he 
broached to 'Lias a subject which he had been 
considering for some time. 

" Look here, 'Lias," he said, " what are 

6i 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

you going to do with that big back yard of 
yours ? " 

" Oh, nothin'. 'T ain't no 'count to raise 
nothin' in." 

" It may not be fit for vegetables, but it will 
raise something." 

"What?" 

" Chickens. That 's what." 

Elias laughed sympathetically. 

" I 'd lak to eat de chickens I raise. I 
would n't want to be feedin' de neighbour- 
hood." 

" Plenty of boards, slats, wire, and a good 
lock and key would fix that all right." 

" Yes, but whah 'm I gwine to git all dem 
things ? " 

" Why, I '11 go in with you and furnish the 
money, and help you build the coops. Then 
you can sell chickens and eggs, and we '11 go 
halves on the profits." 

" Hush, man ! " cried 'Lias, in delight. 

So the matter was settled, and, as Aunt 
Caroline expressed it, " Fu' a week er sich a 
mattah, you nevah did see sich ta'in' down an' 
buildin' up in all yo' bo'n days." 

'Lias went at the work with zest, and Dokes- 

62 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

bury noticed his skill with tools. He let fall the 
remark : " Say, 'Lias, there 's a school near here 
where they teach carpentering ; why don't 
you go and learn ? " 

" What I gwine to do with bein' a 
cyahpenter ? " 

" Repair some of these houses around Mt. 
Hope, if nothing more," Dokesbury responded, 
laughing ; and there the matter rested. 

The work prospered, and as the weeks went 
on, 'Lias' enterprise became the town's talk. 
One of Aunt Caroline's patrons who had come 
with some orders about work regarded the 
changed condition of affairs, and said, " Why, 
Aunt Caroline, this does n't look like the same 
place. I '11 have to buy some eggs from you ; 
you keep your yard and hen-house so nice, it 's 
an advertisement for the eggs." 

" Don't talk to me nothin' 'bout dat ya'd, 
Miss Lucy," Aunt Caroline had retorted. 
" Dat 'long to 'Lias an' de preachah. Hit 
dey doin's. Dey done mos' nigh drove me out 
wif dey cleanness. I ain't nevah seed no sich 
ca'in' on in my life befo'. Why, my 'Lias 
done got right brigity an' talk about bein' 
somep'n'." 

63 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

Dokesbury had retired from his partnership 
with the boy save in so far as he acted as a 
general supervisor. His share had been sold 
to a friend of 'Lias, Jim Hughes. The two 
seemed to have no other thought save of raising, 
tending, and selling chickens. 

Mt. Hope looked on and ceased to scoff. 
Money is a great dignifier, and Jim and 'Lias 
were making money. There had been some 
sniffs when the latter had hinged the front gate 
and whitewashed his mother's cabin, but even 
that had been accepted now as a matter of 
course. 

Dokesbury had done his work. He, too, 
looked on, and in some satisfaction. 

" Let the leaven work," he said, u and all 
Mt. Hope must rise." 

It was one day, nearly a year later, that " old 
lady Hughes " dropped in on Aunt Caroline for 
a chat. 

" Well, I do say, Sis' Ca'line, dem two boys 
o' ourn done sot dis town on fiah." 

" What now, Sis' Lizy ? " 

"Why, evah sence 'Lias tuk it into his 
haid to be a cyahpenter an' Jim 'cided to go 
'long an' lu'n to be a blacksmif, some o' dese 

64 



THE ORDEAL AT MT. HOPE 

hyeah othah young people's been tryin' to do 
somep'n'." 

u All dey wanted was a staht." 

" Well, now will you b'lieve me, dat no-'count 
Tom Johnson done opened a fish sto', an' he 
has de boys an' men bring him dey fish all de 
time. He give 'em a little somep'n' fu' dey 
ketch, den he go sell 'em to de white folks." 

" Lawd, how long ! " 

" An' what you think he say ? " 

" I do' know, sis'." 

" He say ez soon 'z he git money enough, he 
gwine to dat school whah 'Lias an' Jim gone 
an' lu'n to fahm scientific." 

" Bless de Lawd ! Well, 'urn, I don' put 
nothin' pas' de young folks now." 

Mt. Hope had at last awakened. Something 
had come to her to which she might aspire, — 
something that she could understand and reach. 
She was not soaring, but she was rising above 
the degradation in which Harold Dokesbury had 
found her. And for her and him the ordeal had 
passed. 



65 



THE COLONEL'S 
AWAKENING 



67 



THE COLONEL'S AWAKENING 

It was the morning before Christmas. The 
cold winter sunlight fell brightly through the 
window into a small room where an old man 
was sitting. The room, now bare and cheer- 
less, still retained evidences of having once been 
the abode of refinement and luxury. It was 
the one open chamber of many in a great 
rambling old Virginia house, which in its time 
had been one of the proudest in the county. 
But it had been in the path of the hurricane of 
war, and had been shorn of its glory as a tree is 
stripped of its foliage. Now, like the bare tree, 
dismantled, it remained, and this one old man, 
with the aristocratic face, clung to it like the 
last leaf. 

He did not turn his head when an ancient 
serving-man came in and began laying the things 
for breakfast. After a while the servant spoke : 
" I got a monst'ous fine breakfus' fu' you dis 
mo'nin', Mas' Estridge. I got fresh aigs, an' 

6 9 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

beat biscuits, an Lize done fried you a young 
chicken dat '11 sholy mek yo' mouf worter." 

" Thank you, Ike, thank you," was the dig- 
nified response. " Lize is a likely girl, and she 's 
improving in her cooking greatly." 

" Yes, Mas' Estridge, she sho is a mighty 
fine ooman." 

" And you 're not a bad servant yourself, 
Ike," the old man went on, with an air of 
youthful playfulness that ill accorded with his 
aged face. " I expect some day you '11 be 
coming around asking me to let you marry Lize, 
eh ! What have you got to say to that ? " 

" I reckon dat's right, mastah, I reckon dat 's 
mighty nigh right." 

" Well, we shall see about it when the time 
comes ; we shall see about it." 

" Lawd, how long ! " mumbled the old ser- 
vant to himself as he went on about his work. 
" Ain't Mas' Bob nevah gwine to git his al- 
manec straight ? He been gwine on dis way 
fu' ovah twenty yeahs now. He cain't git it 
thoo' his haid dat time been a-passin'. Hyeah 
I done been ma'ied to Lize fu' lo dese many 
yeahs, an' we 've got ma'ied chillum, but he 
still think I 's a-cou'tin' huh." 

7o 



THE COLONEL'S AWAKENING 

To Colonel Robert Estridge time had not 
passed and conditions had not changed for a 
generation. He was still the gallant aristocrat 
he had been when the war broke out, — a little 
past the age to enlist himself, but able and glad 
to give two sons to the cause of the South. 
They had gone out, light-hearted and gay, and 
brave in their military trappings and suits of 
gray. The father had watched them away 
with moist eyes and a swelling bosom. After 
that the tide of war had surged on and on, had 
even rolled to his very gates, and the widowed 
man watched and waited for it to bring his boys 
back to him. One of them came. They 
brought him back from the valley of the Shen- 
andoah, and laid him in the old orchard out 
there behind the house. Then all the love of 
the father was concentrated upon the one re- 
maining son, and his calendar could know but 
one day and that the one on which his Bob, his 
namesake and his youngest, should return to 
him. But one day there came to him the news 
that his boy had fallen in the front of a terrific 
fight, and in the haste of retreat he had been 
buried with the unknown dead. Into that 
trench, among the unknown, Colonel Robert 

7i 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

Estridge had laid his heart, and there it had 
stayed. Time stopped, and his faculties wan- 
dered. He lived always in the dear past. The 
present and future were not. He did not even 
know when the fortunes of war brought an 
opposing host to his very doors. He was un- 
conscious of it all when they devoured his sub- 
stance like a plague of locusts. It was all a 
blank to him when the old manor house was 
fired and he was like to lose his possessions and 
his life. When his servants left him he did 
not know, but sat and gave orders to the one 
faithful retainer as though he were ordering the 
old host of blacks. And so for more than a 
generation he had lived. 

w Hope you gwine to enjoy yo' Christmas 
Eve breakfus', Mas' Estridge," said the old 
servant. 

" Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve ? Yes, yes, 
so it is. To-morrow is Christmas Day, and 
I 'm afraid I have been rather sluggish in getting 
things ready for the celebration. I reckon the 
darkies have already begun to jubilate and to 
shirk in consequence, and I won't be able to 
get a thing done decently for a week." 

" Don't you bother 'bout none o' de res', Mas' 

72 



THE COLONEL'S AWAKENING 

Estridge ; you kin 'pend on me — I ain't gwine 
to shu'k even ef 't is Christmus." 

" That 's right, Ike. I can depend upon you. 
You 're always faithful. Just you get things done 
up right for me, and I '11 give you that broadcloth 
suit of mine. It 's most as good as new." 

"Thanky, Mas' Bob, thanky." The old 
Negro said it as fervently as if he had not worn 
out that old broadcloth a dozen years ago. 

" It 's late and we 've got to hurry if we 
want things prepared in time. Tell Lize that 
I want her to let herself out on that dinner. 
Your Mas' Bob and your Mas' Stanton are 
going to be home to-morrow, and I want to 
show them that their father's house has n't lost 
any of the qualities that have made it famous in 
Virginia for a hundred years. Ike, there ain't 
anything in this world for making men out of 
boys like making them feel the debt they owe 
to their name and family." 

" Yes, suh, Mas' Bob an' Mas' Stant sholy 
is mighty fine men." 

" There ain't two finer in the whole country, 
sir, — no, sir, not in all Virginia, and that of 
necessity means the whole country. Now, Ike, 
I want you to get out some of that wine up in 

73 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

the second cellar, and when I say some I mean 
plenty. It ain't seen the light for years, but it 
shall gurgle into the glasses to-morrow in honour 
of my sons' home-coming. Good wine makes 
good blood, and who should drink good wine if 
not an Estridge of Virginia, sir, eh, Ike ? " 

The wine had gone to make good cheer 
when a Federal regiment had lighted its camp- 
fires on the Estridge lawn, but old Ike had 
heard it too often before and knew his business 
too well to give any sign. 

" I want you to take some things up to Miss 
Clarinda Randolph to-morrow, too, and I 've 
got a silver snuffbox for Thomas Daniels. I 
can't make many presents this year. I 've got 
to devote my money to the interest of your 
young masters." 

There was a catch in the Negro's voice as he 
replied, " Yes, Mas' Estridge, dey needs it mos', 
dey needs it mos'." 

The old colonel's spell of talking seldom 
lasted long, and now he fell to eating in silence ; 
but his face was the face of one in a dream. 
Ike waited on him until he had done, and then, 
clearing the things away, slipped out, leaving 
him to sit and muse in his chair by the window. 

74 



THE COLONEL'S AWAKENING 

" Look hyeah, Lize," said the old servant, 
as he entered his wife's cabin a little later. 
" Pleggoned ef I did n't come purt' nigh brekin' 
down dis mo'nin'." 

" Wha' 's de mattah wif you, Ike ? " 

"Jes' a-listenin' to oP Mas' a-sittin' dah 
a-talkin' lak it was de ol' times, — a-sendin' 
messages to ol' Miss Randolph, dat 's been daid 
too long to talk about, an' to Mas' Tom Daniels, 
dat went acrost de wateh ruther 'n tek de oaf 
o' 'legiance." 

" Oomph," said the old lady, wiping her eyes 
on her cotton apron. 

" Den he expectin' Mas' Bob an' Mas' Stant 
home to-morrer. 'Clah to goodness, when he 
say dat I lak to hollahed right out." 

" Den you would 'a' fixed it, would n't you ? 
Set down an' eat yo' breakfus', Ike, an' don't 
you nevah let on when Mas' Estridge talkin', 
you jes' go 'long 'bout yo' wuk an' keep yo' 
mouf shet, 'ca'se ef evah he wake up now he 
gwine to die right straight ofF." 

" Lawd he'p him not to wake up den, 'ca'se 
he ol', but we needs him. I do' know whut I 'd 
do ef I did n't have Mas' Bob to wuk fu'. You 
got ol' Miss Randolph's present ready fu' him ? " 

75 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

" Co'se I has. I done made him somep'n' 
difFunt dis yeah." 

"Made him somep'n' diffunt — whut you say, 
Lize ? " exclaimed the old man, laying his knife 
and fork on his plate and looking up at his wife 
with wide-open eyes. " You ain't gwine change 
afteh all dese yeahs ? " 

" Yes. I jes' pintly had to. It 's been de 
same thing now fu' mo' 'n twenty yeahs." 

" Whut you done made fu' him ? " 

" I 's made him a comfo't to go roun' his 
naik." 

" But, Lize, oP Miss Cla'indy alius sont him 
gloves knit wif huh own han'. Ain't you feared 
Mas' Estridge gwine to 'spect ? " 

" No, he ain't gwine to 'spect. He don't tek 
no notice o' nuffin', an' he jes' pintly had to have 
dat comfo't fu' his naik, 'ca'se he boun' to go out 
in de col' sometime er ruther an' he got plenty 
gloves." 

" I 's feared," said the old man, sententiously, 
" I 's mighty feared. I would n't have Mastah 
know we been doin' fu' him an' a-sendin' him 
dese presents all dis time fu' nufnn' in de worl'. 
It 'u'd hu't him mighty bad." 

" He ain't foun' out all dese yeahs, an' he ain't 

76 



THE COLONEL'S AWAKENING 

gwine fin' out now." The old man shook his 
head dubiously, and ate the rest of his meal in 
silence. 

It was a beautiful Christmas morning as he 
wended his way across the lawn to his old 
master's room, bearing the tray of breakfast 
things and " ol' Miss Randolph's present, " — a 
heavy home-made scarf. The air was full of 
frosty brightness. Ike was happy, for the frost 
had turned the persimmons. The 'possums had 
gorged themselves, and he had one of the fattest 
of them for his Christmas dinner. Colonel 
Estridge was sitting in his old place by the win- 
dow. He crumbled an old yellow envelope in 
his hand as Ike came in and set the things down. 
It looked like the letter which had brought the 
news of young Robert Estridge's loss, but it 
could not be, for the old man sitting there had 
forgotten that and was expecting the son home 
on that day. 

Ike took the comforter to his master, and began 
in the old way : " Miss Cla'iny Randolph mek 
huh comperments to you, Mas' Bob, an' say — " 
But his master had turned and was looking him 
square in the face, and something in the look 
checked his flow of words. Colonel Estridge 

77 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

did not extend his hand to take the gift. " Cla- 
rinda Randolph," he said, " always sends me 
gloves." His tone was not angry, but it was 
cold and sorrowful. " Lay it down," he went 
on more kindly and pointing to the comforter, 
" and you may go now. I will get whatever I 
want from the table." Ike did not dare to demur. 
He slipped away, embarrassed and distressed. 

" Wha' 'd I tell you ? " he asked Lize, as soon 
as he reached the cabin. u I believe he done 
woke up." But the old woman could only 
mourn and wring her hands. 

" Well, nevah min'," said Ike, after his first 
moment of sad triumph was over. " I guess it 
was n't the comfort nohow, 'ca'se I seed him wif 
a letteh when I went in, but I did n't 'spicion 
nufHn' tell he look at me an' talk jes' ez sensible 
ez me er you." 

It was not until dinner-time that Ike found 
courage to go back to his master's room, and 
then he did not find him sitting in his accustomed 
place, nor was he on the porch or in the hall. 

Growing alarmed, the old servant searched 
high and low for him, until he came to the door 
of a long-disused room. A bundle of keys 
hung from the keyhole. 

78 



THE COLONEL'S AWAKENING 

" Hyeah 's whah he got dat letteh," said Ike. 
cc I reckon he come to put it back." But even 
as he spoke, his eyes bulged with apprehension. 
He opened the door farther, and went in. And 
there at last his search was ended. Colonel Est- 
ridge was on his knees before an old oak chest. 
On the floor about him were scattered pair on pair 
of home-knit gloves. He was very still. His 
head had fallen forward on the edge of the chest. 
Ike went up to him and touched his shoulder. 
There was no motion in response. The black 
man lifted his master's head. The face was 
pale and cold and lifeless. In the stiffening 
hand was clenched a pair of gloves, — the last 
Miss Randolph had ever really knit for him. 
The servant lifted up the lifeless form, and laid 
it upon the bed. When Lize came she would 
have wept and made loud lamentations, but Ike 
checked her. " Keep still," he said. " Pray if 
you want to, but don't hollah. We ought to be 
proud, Lize." His shoulders were thrown back 
and his head was up. " Mas' Bob 's in glory. 
Dis is Virginia's Christmas gif ' to Gawd ! " 



79 



THE TRIAL SERMONS 
ON BULL-SKIN 



81 



THE TRIAL SERMONS ON 
BULL-SKIN 

The congregation on Bull-Skin Creek was 
without a pastor. You will probably say that 
this was a deficiency easily remedied among a 
people who possess so much theological material. 
But you will instantly perceive how different a 
matter it was, when you learn that the last 
shepherd who had guided the flock at Bull-skin 
had left that community under a cloud. There 
were, of course, those who held with the de- 
parted minister, as well as those who were 
against him ; and so two parties arose in the 
church, each contending for supremacy. Each 
party refused to endorse any measure or support 
any candidate suggested by the other; and as 
neither was strong enough to run the church 
alone, they were in a state of inactive equipoise 
very gratifying to that individual who is sup- 
posed to take delight in the discomfort of the 
righteous. 

83 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

It was in this complicated state of affairs that 
Brother Hezekiah Sneedon, who was the repre- 
sentative of one of the candidates for the vacant 
pastorate, conceived and proposed a way out of 
the difficulty. Brother Sneedon's proposition 
was favourably acted upon by the whole congre- 
gation, because it held out the promise of victory 
to each party. It was, in effect, as follows : 

Each faction — it had come to be openly rec- 
ognised that there were two factions — should 
name its candidate, and then they should be in- 
vited to preach, on successive Sundays, trial 
sermons before the whole congregation, the 
preacher making the better impression to be 
called as pastor. 

" And," added Brother Sneedon, pacifically, 
"in ordah dat dis little diffunce between de 
membahs may be settled in ha'mony, I do hope 
an' pray dat de pahty dat fin's itse'f outpreached 
will give up to de othah in Christun submis- 
sion, an' th'ow in all deir might to hoi' up de 
han's of whatever pastor de Lawd may please 
to sen'." 

Sister Hannah Williams, the leader of the 
opposing faction, expressed herself as well 
pleased with the plan, and counselled a like 

84 




BROTHER HEZEKIAH SNEEDON. 



TRIAL SERMONS ON BULL-SKIN 

submission to the will of the majority. And 
thus the difficulty at Bull-skin seemed in a fair 
way to settlement. But could any one have 
read that lady's thoughts as she wended her 
homeward way after the meeting, he would have 
had some misgivings concerning the success of 
the proposition which she so willingly endorsed. 
For she was saying to herself, — 

" Uh huh ! ol' Kiah Sneedon thinks he 's 
mighty sma't, puttin' up dat plan. Reckon he 
thinks ol' Abe Ma'tin kin outpreach anything 
near an' fur, but ef Brothah 'Lias Smith don't 
fool him, I ain't talkin'." 

And Brother Sneedon himself was not entirely 
guiltless of some selfish thought as he hobbled 
away from the church door. 

" Ann," said he to his wife, " I wunner ef 
Hannah Williams ca'culates dat 'Lias Smith kin 
beat Brother Abe Ma'tin preachin', ki yi ! but 
won't she be riley when she fin's out how mis- 
taken she is ? Why, dey ain't nobody 'twixt 
hyeah an' Louisville kin beat Brothah Abe 
Ma'tin preachin'. I 's hyeahed dat man preach 
'twell de winders rattled an' it seemed lak de 
skies mus' come down anyhow, an' sinnahs was 
a-fallin' befo' de Wo'd lak leaves in a Novem- 

b 5 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

bah bias' ; an' she 'lows to beat him, oomph ! " 
The " oomph " meant disgust, incredulity, and, 
above all, resistance. 

The first of the momentous Sundays had been 
postponed two weeks, in order, it was said, to 
allow the members to get the spiritual and tem- 
poral elements of the church into order that 
would be pleasing to the eyes of a new pastor. 
In reality, Brother Sneedon and Sister Williams 
used the interval of time to lay their plans and 
to marshal their forces. And during the two 
weeks previous to the Sunday on which, by 
common consent, it had been agreed to invite 
the Reverend Elias Smith to preach, there was 
an ominous quiet on the banks of Bull-Skin, — 
the calm that precedes a great upheaval, when 
clouds hang heavy with portents and forebod- 
ings, but silent withal. 

But there were events taking place in which 
the student of diplomacy might have found food 
for research and reflection. Such an event was 
the taffy-pulling which Sister Williams' daugh- 
ters, Dora and Caroline, gave to the younger 
members of the congregation on Thursday 
evening. Such were the frequent incursions of 
Sister Williams herself upon the domains of the 

86 



TRIAL SERMONS ON BULL-SKIN 

neighbours, with generous offerings of "a taste 
o' my ketchup " or " a sample o' my jelly." 
She did not stop with rewarding her own allies, 
but went farther, gift-bearing, even into the 
camp of the enemy himself. 

It was on Friday morning that she called on 
Sister Sneedon. She found the door ajar and 
pushed it open, saying, " You see, Sis' Sneedon, 
I 's jes' walkin' right in." 

" Oh, it 's you, Sis' Williams ; dat 's right, 
come in. I was jes' settin' hyeah sawtin' my 
cyahpet rags, de mof do seem to pestah 'em so. 
Tek dis cheer " — industriously dusting one 
with her apron. "How you be'n sence I seen 
you las'?" 

" Oh, jes' sawt o' so." 

" How 's Do' an' Ca'line ? " 

" Oh, Ca'line 's peart enough, but Do 's 
feelin' kind o' peekid." 

" Don't you reckon she grow too fas' ? " 

" 'Spec' dat 's about hit ; dat gal do sutny 
seem to run up lak a weed." 

" It don't nevah do 'em no good to grow 
so fas', hit seem to tek away all deir strengf." 

" Yes, 'm, it sholy do ; gals ain't whut dey 
used to be in yo' an' my day, nohow." 

8 7 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

" Lawd, no ; dey 's ez puny ez white folks 



now." 



" Well, dem sholy is lovely cyahpet rags — 
put' nigh all wool, ain't dey ? " 

" Yes, ma'am, dey is wool, evah speck an' 
stitch ; dey ain't a bit o' cotton among 'em. I 
ain't lak some folks ; I don't b'lieve in mixin' 
my rags evah-which-way. Den when you gits 
'em wove have de cyahpet wah in holes, 'cause 
some '11 stan' a good deal o' strain an' some 
won't ; yes, 'm, dese is evah one wool." 

" An' you sholy have be'n mighty indust'ous 
in gittin' 'em togethah." 

" I 's wo'ked ha'd an' done my level bes', 
dat's sho." 

u Dat 's de mos' any of us kin do. But I 
must n't be settin' hyeah talkin' all day an' 
keepin' you f'om yo' wo'k. Why, la! I'd 
mos' nigh fu'got what I come fu' — I jes' 
brung you ovah a tas'e o' my late greens. 
I knows how you laks greens, so I thought 
mebbe you 'd enjoy dese." 

" Why, sho enough ; now ain't dat good o' 
you, Sis' Williams ? Dey 's right wa'm, too, an' 
tu'nip tops — bless me ! Why, dese mus' be 
de ve'y las' greens o' de season." 

88 



TRIAL SERMONS ON BULL-SKIN 

" Well, I reely don't think you '11 fin' none 
much latah. De fros' had done teched dese, 
but I kin' o' kivered 'em up wif leaves ontwell 
dey growed up wuf cuttin'." 

" Well, I knows I sholy shell relish dem." 
Mrs. Sneedon beamed as she emptied the dish 
and insisted upon washing it for her visitor to 
take home with her. " Fu'," she said, by way 
of humour, " I 's a mighty po' han' to retu'n 
nice dishes when I gits 'em in my cu'boa'd 
once." 

Sister Williams rose to go. " Well, you '11 
be out to chu'ch Sunday to hyeah Broth' 'Lias 
Smith ; he's a powahful man, sho." 

" Dey do tell me so. I '11 be thah. You 
kin 'pend on me to be out whenevah thah 's to 
be any good preachin'." 

"Well, we kin have dat kin' o' preachin' all 
de time ef we gits Broth' 'Lias Smith." 

"Yes,'m." 

" Dey ain't no 'sputin' he '11 be a movin' 
powah at Bull-Skin." 

" Yes, 'm." 

" We sistahs '11 have to ban' togethah an' try 
to do whut is bes' fu' de chu'ch." 

" Yes, 'm." 

89 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

u Co'se, Sistah Sneedon, ef you 's pleased wif 
his sermon, I suppose you '11 be in favoh o' 
callin' Broth' 'Lias Smith." 

u Well, Sis' Williams, I do' know ; you see 
Hezekier 's got his hea't sot on Broth' Abe 
Ma'tin fum Dokesville ; he 's mighty sot on 
him, an' when he 's sot he 's sot, an' you know 
how it is wif us women when de men folks 
says dis er dat." 

Sister Williams saw that she had overshot her 
mark. " Oh, hit 's all right, Sis' Sneedon, hit 's 
all right. I jes' spoke of it a-wunnerin'. What 
we women folks wants to do is to ban' togethah 
to hoi' up de ban' of de pastah dat comes, 
whoms'ever he may be." 

" Dat 's hit, dat 's hit," assented her com- 
panion ; " an' you kin 'pend on me thah, fu' I 's 
a powahful han' to uphol' de ministah whom- 
s'ever he is." 

" An' you right too, fu' dey 's de shepuds of 
de flock. Well, I mus' be goin' — come ovah." 

u I 's a-comin' — come ag'in yo'se'f, good- 
bye." 

As soon as her visitor was gone, Sister Snee- 
don warmed over the greens and sat down to 
the enjoyment of them. She had just finished 

9° 



TRIAL SERMONS ON BULL-SKIN 

the last mouthful when her better half entered. 
He saw the empty plate and the green liquor. 
Evidently he was not pleased, for be it said that 
Brother Sneedon had himself a great tenderness 
for turnip greens. 

" Wha ? d you git dem greens ? " he asked. 

" Sistah Hannah Williams brung 'em ovah 
to me." 

" Sistah Hannah — who ? " ejaculated he. 

" Sis' Williams, Sis' Williams, you know 
Hannah Williams." 

" What ! dat wolf in sheep's clothin' dat 's 
a-gwine erroun' a-seekin' who she may devowah, 
an' you hyeah a-projickin' wif huh, eatin' de 
greens she gives you ! How you know whut 's 
in dem greens ? " 

" Oh, g'long, 'Kiah, you so funny ! Sis' Wil- 
liams ain't gwine conju' nobidy." 

" You hyeah me, you hyeah me now. Keep 
on foolin' wif dat ooman, she '11 have you 
crawlin' on yo' knees an' ba'kin, lak a dog. She 
kin do it, she kin do it, fu' she 's long-haided, I 
tell you." 

" Well, ef she wants to hu't me it 's done, 
fu' I 's eat de greens now." 

" Yes," exclaimed Brother Sneedon, " you 

91 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

eat 'em up lak a hongry hog an' never saved me 
a smudgeon." 

" Oomph J I thought you 's so afeard o' gittin' 
conju'ed." 

" Heish up ! you 's alius tryin' to raise some 
kin' er contentions in de fambly. I nevah seed 
a ooman lak you." And old Hezekiah strode 
out of the cabin in high dudgeon. 

And so, smooth on the surface, but turbulent 
beneath, the stream of days flowed on until the 
Sunday on which Reverend Elias Smith was to 
preach his trial sermon. His fame as a preacher, 
together with the circumstances surrounding this 
particular sermon, had brought together such a 
crowd as the little church on Bull-Skin had 
never seen before even in the heat of the most 
successful revivals. Outsiders had come from 
as far away as Christiansburg, which was twelve, 
and Fox Run, which was fifteen miles distant, 
and the church was crowded to the doors. 

Sister Williams with her daughters Dora and 
Caroline were early in their seats. Their rib- 
bons were fluttering to the breeze like the ban- 
ners of an aggressive host. There were smiles 
of anticipated triumph upon their faces. Brother 
and Sister Sneedon arrived a little later. They 

92 



TRIAL SERMONS ON BULL-SKIN 

took their seat far up in the u amen corner," 
directly behind the Williams family. Sister 
Sneedon sat very erect and looked about her, 
but her spouse leaned his chin upon his cane 
and gazed at the floor, nor did he raise his head, 
when, preceded by a buzz of expectancy, the 
Reverend Elias Smith, accompanied by Brother 
Abner Williams, who was a local preacher, en- 
tered and ascended to the pulpit, where he knelt 
in silent prayer. 

At the entrance of their candidate, the female 
portion of the Williams family became instantly 
alert. 

They were all attention when the husband 
and father arose and gave out the hymn : " Am 
I a Soldier of the Cross ? " They joined lustily 
in the singing, and at the lines, " Sure I must 
fight if I would reign," their voices rose in a 
victorious swell far above the voices of the rest 
of the congregation. Prayer followed, and then 
Brother Williams rose and said, — 

" Brothahs an' sistahs, I teks gret pleasuah 
in interducin' to you Eldah Smith, of Doke- 
ville, who will preach fu' us at dis howah. 
I want to speak fu' him yo' pra'ful attention." 
Sister Williams nodded her head in approval, 

93 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

even this much was good ; but Brother Sneedon 
sighed aloud. 

The Reverend Elias Smith arose and glanced 
over the congregation. He was young, well- 
appearing, and looked as though he might have 
been unmarried. He announced his text in a 
clear, resonant voice : " By deir fruits shell you 
know dem." 

The great change that gave to the blacks 
fairly trained ministers from the schools had not 
at this time succeeded their recently accomplished 
emancipation. And the sermon of Elder Smith 
was full of all the fervour, common-sense, and 
rude eloquence of the old plantation exhorter. 
He spoke to his hearers in the language that they 
understood, because he himself knew no other. 
He drew his symbols and illustrations from the 
things which he saw most commonly about him, 
— things which he and his congregation under- 
stood equally well. He spent no time in dallying 
about the edge of his subject, but plunged immedi- 
ately into the middle of things, and soon had about 
him a shouting, hallooing throng of frantic peo- 
ple. Of course it was the Williams faction who 
shouted.. The spiritual impulse did not seem to 
reach those who favoured Brother Sneedon's can- 

94 



TRIAL SERMONS ON BULL-SKIN 

didate. They sat silent and undemonstrative. 
That earnest disciple himself still sat with his 
head bent upon his cane, and still at intervals 
sighed audibly. He had only raised his head 
once, and that was when some especially power- 
ful period in the sermon had drawn from the 
partner of his joys and sorrows an appreciative 
" Oomph ! " Then the look that he shot forth 
from his eyes, so full of injury, reproach, and 
menace, repressed her noble rage and settled her 
back into a quietude more consonant with her 
husband's ideas. 

Meanwhile, Sister Hannah Williams and her 
sylph-like daughters " Do " and " Ca'line " were 
in an excess of religious frenzy. Whenever any 
of the other women in the congregation seemed 
to be working their way too far forward, those 
enthusiastic sisters shouted their way directly 
across the approach to the pulpit, and held place 
there with such impressive and menacing 
demonstrativeness that all comers were warned 
back. There had been times when, actuated by 
great religious fervour, women had ascended the 
rostrum and embraced the minister. Rest as- 
sured, nothing of that kind happened in this 
case, though the preacher v/axed more and more 

95 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

eloquent as he proceeded, — an eloquence more 
of tone, look, and gesture than of words. He 
played upon the emotions of his willing hearers, 
except those who had steeled themselves against 
his power, as a skilful musician upon the strings 
of his harp. At one time they were boisterously 
exultant, at another they were weeping and 
moaning, as if in the realisation of many sins. 
The minister himself lowered his voice to a soft 
rhythmical moan, almost a chant, as he said, — 
" You go 'long by de road an' you see an oF 
shabby tree a-standin' in de o'chud. It ain't ha'dly 
got a apple on it. Its leaves are put' nigh all 
gone. You look at de branches, dey 's all rough 
an' crookid. De tree 's all full of sticks an' 
stones an' wiah an' ole tin cans. Hit 's all 
bruised up an' hit 's a ha'd thing to look at 
altogether. You look at de tree an' whut do 
you say in yo' hea't ? You say de tree ain't no 
'count, fu' c by deir fruits shell you know dem.' 
But you wrong, my frien's, you wrong. Dat 
tree did ba' good fruit, an' by hits fruit was hit 
knowed. John tol' Gawge an' Gawge toF Sam, 
an' evah one dat passed erlong de road had to 
have a shy at dat fruit. Dey be'n th'owin' at 
dat tree evah sence hit begun to ba' fruit, an' 

9 6 



TRIAL SERMONS ON BULL-SKIN 

dey 's 'bused hit so dat hit could n't grow 
straight to save hits life. Is dat whut's de 
mattah wif you, brothah, all bent ovah yo' staff 
an' a-groanin' wif yo' burdens ? Is dat whut 's 
de mattah wif you, brothah, dat yo' steps are 
a-weary an' you 's longin' fu' yo' home ? Have 
dey be'n th'owin' stones an' cans at you ? 
Have dey be'n beatin' you wif sticks ? Have 
dey tangled you up in ol' wiah twell you could n't 
move han' ner foot ? Have de way be'n all 
trouble ? Have de sky be'n all cloud ? Have 
de sun refused to shine an' de day be'n all da'k- 
ness ? Don't git werry, be consoled. Whut de 
mattah ! Why, I tell you you ba'in' good fruit, 
an' de debbil cain't stan' it — 'By deir fruits shell 
you know dem.' 

" You go 'long de road a little furder an' you 
see a tree standin' right by de fence. Standin' 
right straight up in de air, evah limb straight out 
in hits place, all de leaves green an' shinin' an' 
lovely. Not a stick ner a stone ner a can in 
sight. You look 'way up in de branches, an' 
dey hangin' fall o' fruit, big an' roun' an' solid. 
You look at dis tree an' whut now do you say in 
yo' hea't ? You say dis is a good tree, fu' ' by deir 
fruits shell you know dem.' But you wrong, 
7 97 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

you wrong ag'in, my frien's. De apples on dat 
tree are so sowah dat dey 'd puckah up yo' mouf 
wuss 'n a green pu'simmon, an' evahbidy knows 
hit, by hits fruit is hit knowed. Dey don't want 
none o' dat fruit, an' dey pass hit by an' don't 
bothah dey haids about it. 

" Look out, brothah, you gwine erlong thoo 
dis worl' sailin' on flowery beds of ease. Look 
out, my sistah, you 's a-walkin' in de sof ' pafs 
an' a-dressin' fine. Ain't nobidy a-troublin' 
you, nobidy ain't a-backbitin' you, nobidy ain't 
a-castin' yo' name out as evil. You all right 
an' movin' smoov. But I want you to stop an' 
'zamine yo'se'ves. I want you to settle whut 
kin' o' fruit you ba'in,' whut kin' o' light you 
showin' fo'f to de worl'. An' I want you to 
stop an' tu'n erroun' when you fin' out dat you 
ba'in' bad fruit, an' de debbil ain't bothahed 
erbout you 'ca'se he knows you his'n anyhow. 
' By deir fruits shell you know dem. J " 

The minister ended his sermon, and the spell 
broke. Collection was called for and taken, and 
the meeting dismissed. 

" Wha' 'd you think o' dat sermon ? " asked 
Sister Williams of one of her good friends ; and 
the good friend answered, — 

98 



TRIAL SERMONS ON BULL-SKIN 

" Tsch, pshaw! dat man jes' tuk his tex' at 
de fust an' nevah lef' it." 

Brother Sneedon remarked to a friend : " Well, 
he did try to use a good deal o' high langgidge, 
but whut we want is grace an' speritual feelin'." 

The Williams faction went home with colours 
flying. They took the preacher to dinner. 
They were exultant. The friends of Brother 
Sneedon were silent but thoughtful. 

It was true, beyond the shadow of a doubt, 
that the Reverend Elias Smith had made a won- 
derful impression upon his hearers, — an impres- 
sion that might not entirely fade away before 
the night on which the new pastor was to be 
voted for. Comments on the sermon did not 
end with the closing of that Sabbath day. The 
discussion of its excellences was prolonged into 
the next week, and continued with a persistency 
dangerous to the aspirations of any rival candi- 
date. No one was more fully conscious of this 
menacing condition of affairs than Hezekiah 
Sneedon himself. He knew that for the minds 
of the people to rest long upon the exploits of 
Elder Smith would be fatal to the chances of his 
own candidate ; so he set about inventing some 
way to turn the current of public thought into 

99 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

another channel. And nothing but a powerful 
agency could turn it. But in- fertility of resources 
Hezekiah Sneedon was Napoleonic. Though 
his diplomacy was greatly taxed in this case, 
he came out victorious and with colours flying 
when he hit upon the happy idea of a "'possum 
supper." That would give the people some- 
thing else to talk about beside the Reverend 
Elias Smith and his wonderful sermon. But 
think not, O reader, that the intellect that con- 
ceived this new idea was so lacking in the essen- 
tial qualities of diplomacy as to rush in his 
substitute, have done with it, and leave the 
public's attention to revert to its former object. 
Brother Sneedon was too wary for this. Indeed, 
he did send his invitations out early to the con- 
gregation ; but this only aroused discussion and 
created anticipation which was allowed to grow 
and gather strength until the very Saturday 
evening on which the event occurred. 

Sister Hannah Williams saw through the 
plot immediately, but she could not play coun- 
ter, so she contented herself with saying : " Dat 
Hezikiah Sneedon is sholy de bigges' scamp dat 
evah trod shoe-leathah." But nevertheless, she 
did not refuse an invitation to be present at the 

ioo 



TRIAL SERMONS ON BULL-SKIN 

supper. She would go, she said, for the pur- 
pose of seeing " how things went on." But 
she added, as a sort of implied apology to her 
conscience, " and den I 's powahful fond o' 
'possum, anyhow." 

In inviting Sister Williams, Brother Sneedon 
had taken advantage of the excellent example 
which that good woman had set him, and was 
carrying the war right into the enemy's country ; 
but he had gone farther in one direction, and 
by the time the eventful evening arrived had 
prepared for his guests a coup d'etat which was 
unanticipated even by his own wife. 

He had been engaged in a secret correspond- 
ence, the result of which was seen when, 
just after the assembling of the guests in the 
long, low room which was parlour, sitting, and 
dining room in the Sneedon household, the 
wily host ushered in and introduced to the 
astonished people the Reverend Abram Martin. 
They were not allowed to recover from their 
surprise before they were seated at the table, 
grace said by the reverend brother, and the 
supper commenced. And such a supper as it 
was, — one that could not but soften the feelings 
and touch the heart of any Negro. It was a 

IOI 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

supper that disarmed opposition. Sister Han- 
nah was seated at the left of Reverend Abram 
Martin, who was a fluent and impressive talker; 
and what with his affability and the delight of 
the repast, she grew mollified and found herself 
laughing and chatting. The other members of 
her faction looked on, and, seeing her pleased 
with the minister, grew pleased themselves. 
The Reverend Abram Martin's magnetic in- 
fluence ran round the board like an electric 
current. 

He could tell a story with a dignified humour 
that was irresistible, — and your real Negro is a 
lover of stories and a teller of them. Soon, 
next to the 'possum, he was the centre of 
attraction around the table, and he held forth 
while the diners listened respectfully to his pro- 
found observations or laughed uproariously at 
his genial jokes. All the while Brother Snee- 
don sat delightedly by, watchful, but silent, 
save for the occasional injunction to his guests 
to help themselves. And they did so with a 
gusto that argued well for their enjoyment of 
the food set before them. As the name by 
which the supper was designated would imply, 
'possum was the principal feature, but, even 

I02 



TRIAL SERMONS ON BULL-SKIN 

after Including the sweet potatoes and brown 
gravy, that was not all. There was hog jole 
and cold cabbage, ham and Kentucky oysters, 
more widely known as chittlings. What more 
there was it boots not to tell. Suffice it to say 
that there was little enough of anything left to 
do credit to the people's dual powers of listen- 
ing and eating, for in all this time the Reverend 
Abram Martin had not abated his conversational 
efforts nor they their unflagging attention. 

Just before the supper was finished, the 
preacher was called upon, at the instigation of 
Hezekiah Sneedon, of course, to make a few 
remarks, which he proceeded to do in a very 
happy and taking vein. Then the affair broke 
up, and the people went home with myriad 
comments on their tongues. But one idea 
possessed the minds of all, and that was that 
the Reverend Abram Martin was a very able 
man, and charming withal. 

It was at this hour, when opportunity for 
sober reflection returned, that Sister Williams 
first awakened to the fact that her own conduct 
had compromised her cause. She did not sleep 
that night — she lay awake and planned, and 
the result of her planning was a great fumbling 

103 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

the next morning in the little bag where she 
kept her earnings, and the despatching of her 
husband on an early and mysterious errand. 

The day of meeting came, and the church 
presented a scene precisely similar to that of the 
previous Sunday. If there was any difference, 
it was only apparent in the entirely alert and 
cheerful attitude of Brother Sneedon and the 
reversed expressions of the two factions. But 
even the latter phase was not so marked, for the 
shrewd Sister Williams saw with alarm that her 
forces were demoralised. Some of them were 
sitting near the pulpit with expressions of pleas- 
ant anticipation on their faces, and as she looked 
at them she groaned in spirit. But her lips 
were compressed in a way that to a close ob- 
server would have seemed ominous, and ever 
and anon she cast anxious and expectant glances 
toward the door. Her husband sat upon her 
left, an abashed, shamefaced expression domi- 
nating his features. He continually followed 
her glances toward the door with a furtive, half- 
frightened look; and when Sneedon looked his 
way, he avoided his eye. 

That arch schemer was serene and unruffled. 
He had perpetrated a stroke of excellent policy 

104 



TRIAL SERMONS ON BULL-SKIN 

by denying himself the pleasure of introducing 
the new minister, and had placed that matter in 
the hands of Isaac Jordan, a member of the op- 
posing faction and one of Sister Williams' stanch- 
est supporters. Brother Jordan was pleased and 
flattered by the distinction, and converted. 

The service began. The hymn was sung, 
the prayer said, and the minister, having been 
introduced, was already leading out from his 
text, when, with a rattle and bang that instantly 
drew every eye rearward, the door opened and a 
man entered. Apparently oblivious to the fact 
that he was the centre of universal attention, he 
came slowly down the aisle and took a seat far 
to the front of the church. A gleam of satisfac- 
tion shot from the eye of Sister Williams, and 
with a sigh she settled herself in her seat and 
turned her attention to the sermon. Brother 
Sneedon glanced at the new-comer and grew 
visibly disturbed. One sister leaned over and 
whispered to another, — 

" I wunner whut Bud Lewis is a-doin' 
hyeah ? " 

" I do' know," answered the other, " but I 
do hope an' pray dat he won't git into none o' 
his shoutin' tantrums to-day." 

105 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

" Well, ef he do, I 's a-leavin' hyeah, you 
hyeah me," rejoined the first speaker. 

The sermon had progressed about one-third 
its length, and the congregation had begun to 
show frequent signs of awakening life, when 
on an instant, with startling suddenness, Bud 
Lewis sprang from his seat and started on a 
promenade down the aisle, swinging his arms 
in sweeping semi-circles, and uttering a sound 
like the incipient bellow of a steamboat. 
" Whough ! Whough ! " he puffed, swinging 
from side to side down the narrow passageway. 

At the first demonstration from the new- 
comer, people began falling to right and left out 
of his way. The fame of Bud Lewis' " shoutin' 
tantrums " was widespread, and they who knew 
feared them. This unregenerate mulatto was 
without doubt the fighting man of Bull-Skin. 

While, as a general thing, he shunned the 
church, there were times when a perverse spirit 
took hold of him, and he would seek the meet- 
ing-house, and promptly, noisily, and violently 
" get religion." At these times he made it a 
point to knock people helter-skelter, trample on 
tender toes, and do other mischief, until in many 
cases the meeting broke up in confusion. The 

106 



TRIAL SERMONS ON BULL-SKIN 

saying finally grew to be proverbial among the 
people in the Bull-Skin district that they would 
rather see a thunderstorm than Bud Lewis get 
religion. 

On this occasion he made straight for the 
space in front of the pulpit, where his vociferous 
hallelujahs entirely drowned the minister's voice; 
while the thud, thud, thud of his feet upon the 
floor, as he jumped up and down, effectually 
filled up any gap of stillness which his halle- 
lujahs might have left. 

Hezekiah Sneedon knew that the Reverend 
Mr. Martin's sermon would be ruined, and he 
saw all his cherished hopes destroyed in a 
moment. He was a man of action, and one 
glance at Sister Williams' complacent counte- 
nance decided him. He rose, touched Isaac 
Jordan, and said, " Come on, let 's hold him." 
Jordan hesitated a minute ; but his leader was 
going on, and there was nothing to do but to 
follow him. They approached Lewis, and 
each seized an arm. The man began to strug- 
gle. Several other men joined them and laid 
hold on him. 

" Quiet, brother, quiet," said Hezekiah 
Sneedon ; " dis is de house o' de Lawd." 

107 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

cc You lemme go," shrieked Bud Lewis. 
" Lemme go, I say." 

" But you mus' be quiet, so de res' o' de 
congregation kin hyeah." 

ct I don't keer whethah dey hyeahs er not. 
I reckon I kin shout ef I want to." The 
minister had paused in his sermon, and the 
congregation was alert. 

" Brother, you mus' not distu'b de meetin'. 
Praise de Lawd all you want to, but give some- 
bidy else a chance too." 

" I won't, I won't ; lemme go. I 's paid fu' 
shoutin', an' I 's gwine to shout." Hezekiah 
Sneedon caught the words, and he followed up 
his advantage. 

" You 's paid fu' shoutin' ! Who paid you ? " 

" Hannah Williams, dat 's who ! Now you 
lemme go ; I 's gwine to shout." 

The effect of this declaration was magical. 
The brothers, by their combined efforts, lifted 
the struggling mulatto from his feet and carried 
him out of the chapel, while Sister Williams' 
face grew ashen in hue. 

The congregation settled down, and the ser- 
mon was resumed. Disturbance and opposition 
only seemed to have heightened the minister's 

1 08 



TRIAL SERMONS ON BULL-SKIN 

power, and he preached a sermon that is re- 
membered to this day on Bull-Skin. Before it 
was over, Bud Lewis' guards filed back into 
church and listened with enjoyment to the 
remainder of the discourse. 

The service closed, and under cover of the 
crowd that thronged about the altar to shake the 
minister's hand Hannah Williams escaped. 

As the first item of business at the church 
meeting on the following Wednesday evening, 
she was formally " churched " and expelled from 
fellowship with the flock at Bull-Skin for 
planning to' interrupt divine service. The next 
business was the unanimous choice of Reverend 
Abram Martin for the pastorate of the church. 



109 



JIMSELLA 



in 



JIMSELLA 

No one could ever have accused Mandy Mason 
of being thrifty. For the first twenty years 
of her life conditions had not taught her the 
necessity for thrift. But that was before she 
had come North with Jim. Down there at 
home one either rented or owned a plot of 
ground with a shanty set in the middle of it, and 
lived off the products of one's own garden and 
coop. But here it was all very different : one 
room in a crowded tenement house, and the 
necessity of grinding day after day to keep the 
wolf — a very terrible and ravenous wolf — 
from the door. No wonder that Mandy was 
discouraged and finally gave up to more than 
her old shiftless ways. 

Jim was no less disheartened. He had been 
so hopeful when he first came, and had really 
worked hard. But he could not go higher than 
his one stuffy room, and the food was not so 
good as it had been at home. In this state of 
mind, Mandy's shiftlessness irritated him. He 
8 113 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

grew to look on her as the source of all his dis- 
appointments. Then, as he walked Sixth or 
Seventh Avenue, he saw other coloured women 
who dressed gayer than Mandy, looked smarter, 
and did not wear such great shoes. These he 
contrasted with his wife, to her great dis- 
advantage. 

"Mandy," he said to her one day, "why 
don't you fix yo'se'f up an' look like people ? 
You go 'roun' hyeah lookin' like I dunno 
what." 

" Why n't you git me somep'n' to fix myse'f 
up in ? " came back the disconcerting answer. 

" Ef you had any git up erbout you, you 'd 
git somep'n' fu' yo'se'f an' not wait on me to 
do evahthing." 

" Well, ef I waits on you, you keeps me 
waitin', fu' I ain' had nothin' fit to eat ner 
waih since I been up hyeah." 

" Nev' min' ! You 's mighty free wid yo' 
talk now, but some o' dese days you won't be so 
free. You 's gwine to wake up some mo'nin' 
an' fin' dat I 's lit out ; dat 's what you will." 

" Well, I 'low nobody ain't got no string to 
you." . 

Mandy took Jim's threat as an idle one, so 

114 




"why'n'i- vou git me somp'n to fix myself up in?" 



JIMSELLA 

she could afford to be independent. But the 
next day had found him gone. The deserted 
wife wept for a time, for she had been fond of 
Jim, and then she set to work to struggle on 
by herself. It was a dismal effort, and the 
people about her were not kind to her. She 
was hardly of their class. She was only a sim- 
ple, honest countrywoman, who did not go out 
with them to walk the avenue. 

When a month or two afterward the sheepish 
Jim returned, ragged and dirty, she had forgiven 
him and taken him back. But immunity from 
punishment spoiled him, and hence of late his 
lapses had grown more frequent and of longer 
duration. 

He walked in one morning, after one of his 
absences, with a more than usually forbidding 
face, for he had heard the news in the neigh- 
bourhood before he got in. During his absence 
a baby had come to share the poverty of his 
home. He thought with shame at himself, 
which turned into anger, that the child must be 
three months old and he had never seen it. 

" Back ag'in, Jim ? " was all Mandy said as 
he entered and seated himself sullenly. 

" Yes, I 's back, but I ain't back fu' long. I 

JI 5 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

jes' come to git my clothes. I 's a-gwine away 
fu' good." 

" Gwine away ag'in ! Why, you been gone 
fu' nigh on to fou' months a'ready. Ain't you 
nevah gwine to stay home no mo' ? " 

"I tol' you I was gwine away fu' good, 
did n't I ? Well, dat 's what I mean." 

u Ef you did n't want me, Jim, I wish to 
Gawd dat you 'd 'a' lef ' me back home among 
my folks, whaih people knowed me an' would 'a' 
give me a helpin' han'. Dis hyeah No'f ain't 
no iittin' place fu' a lone colo'ed ooman less 'n 
she got money." 

" It ain't no place fu' nobody dat 's jes' lazy 
an' no 'count." 

" I ain't no' count. I ain't wuffless. I does 
de bes' I kin. I been wo'kin' like a dog to try 
an' keep up while you trapsein' 'roun', de Lawd 
knows whaih. When I was single I could git 
out an' mek my own livin'. I did n't ax no- 
body no odds ; but you wa'n't satisfied ontwell 
I ma'ied you, an' now, when I 's tied down wid 
a baby, dat 's de way you treats me." 

The woman sat down and began to cry, and 
the sight of her tears angered her husband the 
more. 

116 



JIMSELLA 

" Oh, cry ! " he exclaimed. " Cry all you 
want to. I reckon you ? 11 cry yo' fill befo' you 
gits me back. What do I keer about de baby ! 
Dat 's jes' de trouble. It wa' n't enough fu' 
me to have to feed an' clothe you a-layin' 
'roun' doin' nothin', a baby had to go an' come 
too." 

" It 's yo'n, an' you got a right to tek keer of 
it, dat 's what you have. I ain't a-gwine to 
waih my soul-case out a-tryin' to pinch along 
an' sta've to def at las'. I '11 kill myse'f an' de 
chile, too, fus." 

The man looked up quickly. " Kill yo'- 
se'f," he said. Then he laughed. " Who evah 
hyeahed tell of a niggah killin' hisse'f? " 

" Nev' min', nev' min', you jes' go on yo' 
way rejoicin'. I 'spect you runnin' 'roun' aftah 
somebody else — dat 's de reason you cain't 
nevah stay at home no mo'." 

" Who toP you dat ? " exclaimed the man, 
fiercely. " I ain't runnin' aftah nobody else — 
't ain't none o' yo' business ef I is." 

The denial and implied confession all came 
out in one breath. 

" Ef hit ain't my bus'ness, I 'd like to know 
whose it gwine to be. I 's yo' lawful wife an' 

117 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

hit 's me dat 's a-sta'vin' to tek keer of yo' 
chile." 

" Doggone de chile ; I 's tiahed o' hyeahin' 
'bout huh." 

u You done got tiahed mighty quick when 
you ain't nevah even seed huh yit. You done 
got tiahed quick, sho." 

" No, an' I do' want to see huh, neithah." 

" You do' know nothin' 'bout de chile, you 
do' know whethah you wants to see huh er 
not." 

" Look hyeah, ooman, don't you fool wid me. 
I ain't right, nohow ! " 

Just then, as if conscious of the hubbub she 
had raised, and anxious to add to it, the baby 
awoke and began to wail. With quick mother 
instinct, the black woman went to the shabby 
bed, and, taking the child in her arms, began to 
croon softly to it : " Go s'eepy, baby ; don' 
you be 'Paid; mammy ain' gwine let nuffin' 
hu't you, even ef pappy don' wan' look at huh 
li'l face. Bye, bye, go s'eepy, mammy's li'l 
gal." Unconsciously she talked to the baby in 
a dialect that was even softer than usual. For 
a moment the child subsided, and the woman 
turned angrily on her husband : " I don' keer 

118 



JIMSELLA 

whethah you evah sees dis chile er not. She 's a 
blessed li'l angel, dat 's what she is, an' I '11 
wo'k my fingahs off to raise huh, an' when she 
grows up, ef any nasty niggah comes erroun' 
mekin' eyes at huh, I '11 tell huh 'bout huh 
pappy an' she '11 stay wid me an' be my comfo't." 

" Keep yo' comfo't. Gawd knows I do' 
want huh." 

" De time '11 come, though, an' I kin wait 
fu' it. Hush-a-bye, Jimsella." 

The man turned his head slightly. 

" What you call huh ? " 

" I calls huh Jimsella, dat 's what I calls 
huh, 'ca'se she de ve'y spittin' image of you. I 
gwine to jes' lun to huh dat she had a pappy, so 
she know she 's a hones' chile an' kin hoi' up 
huh haid." 

" Oomph ! " 

They were both silent for a while, and then 
Jim said, "Huh name ought to be Jamsella — 
don't you know Jim 's sho't fu' James ? '' 

" I don't keer what it 's sho't fu'." The 
woman was holding the baby close to her breast 
and sobbing now. u It was n't no James dat 
come a-cou'tin' me down home. It was jes' plain 
Jim. Dat 's what de mattah, I reckon you done 

119 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

got to be James." Jim did n't answer, and 
there was another space of silence, only inter- 
rupted by two or three contented gurgles from 
the baby. 

" I bet two bits she don't look like me," he 
said finally, in a dogged tone that was a little 
tinged with curiosity. 

" I know she do. Look at huh yo'se'f." 

" I ain' gwine look at huh." 

" Yes, you 's 'fraid — dat 's de reason." 

" I ain' 'fraid nuttin' de kin'. What I got 
to be 'fraid fu' ? I reckon a man kin look at 
his own darter. I will look jes' to spite you." 

He could n't see much but a bundle of rags, 
from which sparkled a pair of beady black eyes. 
But he put his finger down among the rags. 
The baby seized it and gurgled. The sweat 
broke out on Jim's brow. 

" Cain't you let me hold de baby a minute ? " 
he said angrily. " You must be 'fraid I '11 run 
off wid huh." Pie took the child awkwardly in 
his arms. 

The boiling over of Mandy's clothes took her 
to the other part of the room, where she was 
busy for a few minutes. When she turned to 
look for Jim, he had slipped out, and Jimsella 

I20 



JIMSELLA 

was lying on the bed trying to kick free of the 
coils which swaddled her. 

At supper-time that evening Jim came in 
with a piece of " shoulder-meat " and a head of 
cabbage. 

" You '11 have to git my dinnah ready fu' me 
to ca'y to-morrer. I 's wo' kin' on de street, an' 
I cain't come home twell night." 

" Wha', what ! ' exclaimed Mandy, " den 
you ain' gwine leave, aftah all." 

" Don't bothah me, ooman," said Jim. " Is 
Jimsella 'sleep ? " 



121 



MT. PISGAH'S 
CHRISTMAS 'POSSUM 



123 



MT. PISGAH'S CHRISTMAS 'POSSUM 

No more happy expedient for raising the rev- 
enues of the church could have been found than 
that which was evolved by the fecund brain of 
the Reverend Isaiah Johnson. Mr. Johnson 
was wise in his day and generation. He knew 
his people, their thoughts and their appetites, 
their loves and their prejudices. Also he 
knew the way to their hearts and their pocket- 
books. 

As far ahead as the Sunday two weeks before 
Christmas, he had made the announcement that 
had put the congregation of Mt. Pisgah church 
into a flurry of anticipatory excitement. 

" Brothahs an' sistahs," he had said, u you all 
reckernizes, ez well ez I does, dat de revenues 
of dis hyeah chu'ch ain't whut dey ought to be. 
De chu'ch, I is so'y to say, is in debt. We has 
a mo' gage on ouah buildin', an' besides de int'rus' 
on dat, we has fuel to buy an' lightin' to do. 

I2 5 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

Fu'thahmo', we ain't paid de sexton but 
twenty-five cents on his salary in de las' six 
months. In conserquence of de same, de dus' 
is so thick on de benches dat ef you 'd jes' lay a 
clof ovah dem, dey 'd be same ez upholstahed 
fu'niture. Now, in o'dah to mitigate dis con- 
dition of affairs, yo' pastoh has fo'med a plan 
which he wishes to p'nounce dis mo'nin' in yo' 
hyeahin' an' to ax yo' 'proval. You all knows 
dat Chris'mus is 'proachin,' an' I reckon dat you 
is all plannin' out yo' Chris'mus dinnahs. But 
I been a-plannin' fu' you when you was asleep, 
an' my idee is dis, — all of you give up yo' 
Chris'mus dinnahs, tek fifteen cents er a qua'tah 
apiece an' come hyeah to chu'ch an' have a 
'possum dinnah." 

" Amen ! " shouted one delighted old man 
over in the corner, and the whole congregation 
was all smiles and acquiescent nods. 

" I puceive on de pa't of de cong'egation a 
disposition to approve of de pastoh's plan." 

" Yes, yes, indeed," was echoed on all sides. 

" Well, den I will jes' tek occasion to say 
fu'thah dat I already has de 'possums, fo' of de 
fattes' animals I reckon you evah seen in all 
yo' bo'n days, an' I 's gwine to tu'n 'em ovah to 

126 



MT. PISGAH'S CHRISTMAS 'POSSUM 

Brothah Jabez Holly to tek keer of dem an' 
fatten 'em wuss ag'in de happy day." 

The eyes of Jabez Holly shone with pride 
at the importance of the commission assigned to 
him. He showed his teeth in a broad smile as 
he whispered to his neighbour, 'Lishy Davis, 
" I 'low when I gits thoo wif dem 'possums dey 
won't be able to waddle ; " and 'Lishy slapped 
his knee and bent double with appreciation. It 
was a happy and excited congregation that filed 
out of Mt. Pisgah church that Sunday morning, 
and how they chattered ! Little knots and 
clusters of them, with their heads together in 
deep converse, were gathered all about, and all 
the talk was of the coming dinner. This, as 
has already been said, was the Sunday two weeks 
before Christmas. On the Sunday following, 
the shrewd, not to say wily, Mr. Johnson de- 
livered a stirring sermon from the text, "He 
prepareth a table before me in the presence of 
mine enemies," and not one of his hearers but 
pictured the Psalmist and his brethren sitting at 
a 'possum feast with the congregation of a rival 
church looking enviously on. After the service 
that day, even the minister sank into insigni- 
ficance beside his steward, Jabez Holly, the 

127 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

custodian of the 'possums. He was the most 
sought man on the ground. 

" How dem 'possums comin' on ? " asked one. 

" Comin' on ! " replied Jabez. " c Comin' on ' 
ain't no name fu' it. Why, I tell you, dem 
animals is jes' a-waddlin' a'ready." 

" O-o-mm ! " groaned a hearer, " Chris'mus 
do seem slow a-comin' dis yeah." 

" Why, man," Jabez went on, " it 'u'd mek 
you downright hongry to see one o' dem critters. 
Evah time I looks at 'em I kin jes' see de grease 
a-drippin' in de pan, an' dat skin all brown an' 
crispy, an' de smell a-risin' up — " 

" Heish up, man ! " exclaimed the other ; " ef 
you don't, I '11 drap daid befo' de time comes." 

" Huh-uh ! no, you won't ; you know dat day 's 
wuf livin' fu'. Brothah Jackson, how 'd yo' 
crap o' sweet pertaters tu'n out dis yeah ? ,: 

" Fine, fine ! I 's got dem mos' plenteous in 
my cellah." 

ct Well, don't eat em too fas' in de nex' week, 
'ca'se we 'spects to call on you fu' some o' yo' 
bes'. You know dem big sweet pertaters cut right 
in two and laid all erroun' de pan teks up lots of 
de riches' grease when ol' Mistah 'Possum git 
too wa'm in de oven an' git to sweatin' it out." 

128 



MT. PISGAH'S CHRISTMAS 'POSSUM 



it 



Have mercy ! " exclaimed the impression- 
able one. " I know ef I don't git erway f'om 
dis chu'ch do' right now, I '11 be foun' hyeah on 
Chris'mus day wif my mouf wide open." 

But he did not stay there until Christmas 
morning, though he arrived on that momentous 
day bright and early like most of the rest. Half 
the women of the church had volunteered to help 
cook the feast, and the other half were there to 
see it done right ; so by the time for operations 
to commence, nearly all of Mt. Pisgah's congre- 
gation was assembled within its chapel walls. 
And what laughing and joking there was ! 

u O-omph ! " exclaimed Sister Green, " I see 
Brothah Bill Jones' mouf is jes' sot fu' 'possum 
now." 

" Yes, indeed, Sis' Green ; hit jes' de same 's a 
trap an' gwine to spring ez soon ez dey any 
'possum in sight." 

" Hyah, hyah, you ain't de on'iest one in dat 
fix, Brothah Jones ; I see some mo' people roun' 
hyeah lookin' mighty 'spectious." 

" Yes, an' I 's one of 'em," said some one 
else. " I do wish Jabez Holly 'ud come on, 
my mouf's jest p'intly worterin'." 

"Let's sen' a c'mittee aftah him, dat '11 be 
9 129 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

a joke." This idea was taken up, and with 
much merriment the committee was despatched 
to find and bring in the delinquent Jabez. 

Every one who has ever cooked a 'possum — 
and who has not ? — knows that the animal must 
be killed the day before and hung out of doors 
over night to freeze " de wiP tas'e outen him." 
This duty had been intrusted to Jabez, and 
shouts of joy went up from the assembled 
people when he appeared, followed by the com- 
mittee and bearing a bag on his shoulder. He 
set the bag on the floor, and as the crowd 
closed round him, he put his arm far down 
into it, and drew forth by the tail a beautiful 
white fat cleaned 'possum. 

" O-om, jes' look at dat ! Ain't dat a possum 
fu' you ? Go on, Brothah Jabez, let 's see an- 
othah." Jabez hesitated. 

" Dat 's one 'possum dah, ain't it ? " he said. 

" Yes, yes, go on, let 's see de res'." 
Those on the inside of the circle were looking 
hard at Jabez. 

" Now, dat 's one 'possum," he repeated. 

"Yes, yes, co'se it is." There was breath- 
less expectancy. 

"Well, dat's all dey is." 

130 




" I SEE POSSUM GREASE ON YOU' MOUF." 



MT. PISGAH'S CHRISTMAS 'POSSUM 

The statement fell like a thunder-clap. No 
one found voice till the Reverend Isaiah John- 
son broke in with, "Wha', what dat you say, 
Jabez Holly?" 

" I say dat 's all de 'possum dey is, dat 's what 
I say." 

" Whah 's dem othah 'possums, huh ! whah 's 
de res' ? " 

" I put 'em out to freeze las' night, an' de 
dogs got 'em." 

A groan went up from the disappointed souls 
of Mt. Pisgah. But the minister went on : 
" Whah 'd you hang dem ? " 

" Up ag'in de side o' de house." 

" How 'd de dogs git 'em dah ? " 

" Mebbe it mout 'a' been cats." 

" Why did n't dey git dat un ? " 

"Why, why — 'ca'se — 'ca'se — Oh, don't 
questun me, man. I want you to know dat I 's 
a honer'ble man." 

" Jabez Holly," said the minister, impressively, 
" don't lie hyeah in de sanctua'y. I see 'possum 
grease on yo' mouf." 

Jabez unconsciously gave his lips a wipe with 
his sleeve. "On my mouf, on my mouf!" he 
exclaimed. " Don't you say you see no 'possum 

131 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

grease on my mouf! I mek you prove it. I 's 
a honer'ble man, I is. Don't you 'cuse me of 
nuffin' ! " 

Murmurs had begun to arise from the crowd, 
and they had begun to press in upon the accused. 

" Don't crowd me ! " he cried, his eyes bulg- 
ing, for he saw in the faces about him the energy 
of attack which should have been directed against 
the 'possum all turned upon him. " I did n't eat 
yo' ol' 'possum, I do' lak 'possum nohow." 

" Hang him," said some one, and the murmur 
rose louder as the culprit began to be hustled. 
But the preacher's voice rose above the storm. 

" Ca'm yo'se'ves, my brethren," he said ; u let 
us thank de Lawd dat one 'possum remains unto 
us. Brothah Holly has been put undah a gret 
temptation, an' we believe dat he has fell ; but it 
is a jedgment. I ought to knowed bettah dan 
to 'a' trusted any colo'ed man wif fo' 'possums. 
Let us not be ha'd upon de sinnah. We mus' 
not be violent, but I tu'ns dis assembly into a 
chu'ch meetin' of de brothahs to set on Brothah 
Holly's case. In de mean time de sistahs will 
prepah de remainin' 'possum." 

The church-meeting promptly found Brother 
Holly guilty of having betrayed his trust, and 

132 



MT. PISGAH'S CHRISTMAS 'POSSUM 

expelled him in disgrace from fellowship with 
Mt. Pisgah church. 

The excellence of the one 'possum which the 
women prepared only fed their angry feelings, as 
it suggested what the whole four would have 
been ; but the hungry men, women, and children 
who had foregone their Christmas dinners at 
home ate as cheerfully as possible, and when 
Mt. Pisgah's congregation went home that day, 
salt pork was in great demand to fill out the void 
left by the meagre fare of Christmas 'possum. 



*33 



A FAMILY 
FEUD 



*35 




OLD AUNT DOSHY. 



A FAMILY FEUD 

I wish I could tell you the story as I heard it 
from the lips of the old black woman as she sat 
bobbing her turbaned head to and fro with the 
motion of her creaky little rocking-chair, and 
droning the tale forth in the mellow voice of 
her race. So much of the charm of the story 
was in that voice, which even the cares of 
age had not hardened. 

It was a sunny afternoon in late November, 
one of those days that come like a backward 
glance from a reluctantly departing summer. 
I had taken advantage of the warmth and bright- 
ness to go up and sit with old Aunt Doshy 
on the little porch that fronted her cottage. 
The old woman had been a trusted house-ser- 
vant in one of the wealthiest of the old Ken- 
tucky families, and a visit to her never failed 
to elicit some reminiscence of the interesting 
past. Aunt Doshy was inordinately proud of 
her family, as she designated the Venables, and 

137 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

was never weary of detailing accounts of their 
grandeur and generosity. What if some of the 
harshness of reality was softened by the dis- 
tance through which she looked back upon 
them ; what if the glamour of memory did put 
a halo round the heads of some people who were 
never meant to be canonised? It was all plain 
fact to Aunt Doshy, and it was good to hear her 
talk. That day she began : — 

" I reckon I hain't never tol' you 'bout ole 
Mas' an' young Mas' fallin' out, has I ? Hit 's 
all over now, an' things is done change so dat 
I reckon eben ef ole Mas' was libin', he would n't 
keer ef I tol', an' I knows young Mas' Tho'nton 
would n't. Dey ain't nuffin' to hide 'bout it no- 
how, 'ca'se all quality families has de same kin' 
o' 'spectable fusses. 

" Hit all happened 'long o' dem Jamiesons 
whut libed jinin' places to our people, an' whut 
ole Mas' ain't spoke to fu' nigh onto thutty 
years. Long while ago, when Mas' Tom Jamie- 
son an' Mas' Jack Venable was bofe young mans, 
dey had a qua'l 'bout de young lady dey bofe was 
a-cou'tin', an' by-an'-by dey had a du'l an' Mas' 
Jamieson shot Mas' Jack in de shouldah, but 
Mas' Jack ma'ied de lady, so dey was eben. 

138 



A FAMILY FEUD 

Mas' Jamieson ma'ied too, an' after so many 
years dey was bofe wid'ers, but dey ain't fu'give 
one another yit. When Mas' Tho'nton was big 
enough to run erroun', ole Mas' used to try 
to 'press on him dat a Venable mus' n' never 
put his foot on de Jamieson Ian' ; an' many 
a tongue-lashin' an' sometimes wuss de han's on 
our place got fu' mixin' wif de Jamieson ser- 
vants. But, la ! young Mas' Tho'nton was 
wuss 'n de niggers. Evah time he got a chance 
he was out an' gone, over lots an' flel's an' 
into de Jamieson ya'd a-playin' wif little Miss 
Nellie, whut was Mas' Tom's little gal. I 
never did see two chillun so 'tached to one 
another. Dey used to wander erroun', han' in 
han', lak brother an' sister, an' dey 'd cry lak 
dey little hea'ts 'u'd brek ef either one of dey 
pappys seed 'em an' pa'ted 'em. 

" I 'member once when de young Mastah was 
erbout eight year ole, he was a-settin' at de 
table one mo'nin' eatin' wif his pappy, when all 
of er sudden he pause an' say, jes' ez solerm-lak, 
c When I gits big, I gwine to ma'y Nellie.' 
His pappy jump lak he was shot, an' tu'n right 
pale, den he say kin' o' slow an' gaspy-lak, 
' Don't evah let me hyeah you say sich a thing 

r 39 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

ergin, Tho'nton Venable. Why, boy, I 'd raver 
let evah drap o' blood outen you, dan to see a 
Venable cross his blood wif a Jamieson.' 

" I was jes' a-bringin' in de cakes whut Mas- 
tah was pow'ful fon' of, an' I could see bofe dey 
faces. But, la ! honey, dat chile did n't look a 
bit skeered. He jes' sot dah lookin' in his 
pappy's face, — he was de spittin' image of him, 
all 'cept his eyes, dey was his mother's, — den he 
say, c Why, Nellie 's nice,' an' went on eatin' 
a aig. His pappy laid his napkin down an' got 
up an' went erway f'om de table. Mas' Tho'n- 
ton say, 'Why, father didn't eat his cakes.' 
' I reckon yo' pa ain't well,' says I, fu' I 
knowed de chile was innercent. 

" Well, after dat day, ole Mas' tuk extry pains 
to keep de chillun apa't — but 'twa'n't no use. 
'T ain't never no use in a case lak dat. Dey jes' 
would be together, an' ez de boy got older, it 
seemed to grieve his pappy mighty. I reckon 
he did n't lak to jes' fu'bid him seein' Miss 
Nellie, fu' he know how haidstrong Mas' Tho'n- 
ton was, anyhow. So things kep' on dis way, an' 
de boy got handsomer evah day. My, but his 
pappy did set a lot o' sto' by him. Dey was n't 
nuffin' dat boy eben wished fu' dat his pappy 

140 



A FAMILY FEUD 

did n't gin him. Seemed lak he fa'ly wus- 
shipped him. He 'd jes' watch him ez he went 
erroun' de house lak he was a baby yit. So hit 
mus' 'a' been putty ha'd wif Mas' Jack when 
hit come time to sen' Mas' Tho'nton off to 
college. But he never showed it. He seed 
him off wif a cheerful face, an' nobidy would 'a' 
ever guessed dat it hu't him ; but dat afternoon 
he shet hisse'f up an' hit was th'ee days befo' 
anybody 'cept me seed him, an' nobidy 'cept 
me knowed how his vittels come back not 
teched. But after de fus' letter come, he got 
better. I hyeahd him a-laffin' to hisse'f ez he 
read it, an' dat day he et his dinner. 

" Well, honey, dey ain't no tellin' whut Mas' 
Jack's plans was, an' hit ain't fu' me to try an' 
guess 'em ; but ef he had sont Mas' Tho'nton 
erway to brek him off Pom Miss Nellie, he 
mout ez well 'a' let him stayed at home ; fu' 
Jamieson's Sal whut nussed Miss Nellie toP me 
dat huh mistis got a letter f'om Mas' Tho'nton 
evah day er so. An' when he was home fu' 
holidays, you never seed nuffin' lak it. Hit was 
jes' walkin' er ridin' er dribin' wif dat young 
lady evah day of his life. An' dey did look so 
sweet together dat it seemed a shame to pa't 'em 

141 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

— him wif his big brown eyes an' soP curly 
hair an' huh all white an' gentle lak a little 
dove. But de ole Mas' could n't see hit dat 
erway, an' I knowed dat hit was a-troublin' him 
mighty bad. Ez well ez he loved his son, hit 
alius seemed lak he was glad when de holidays 
was over an' de boy was back at college. 

" Endurin' de las' year dat de young Mastah 
was to be erway, his pappy seemed lak he was 
jes' too happy an' res'less fu' anything. He 
was dat proud of his son, he did n't know whut 
to do. He was alius tellin' visitors dat come to 
de house erbout him, how he was a 'markable 
boy an' was a-gwine to be a honour to his name. 
An' when 'long to'ds de ve'y end of de term, a 
letter come sayin' dat Mas' Tho'nton had done 
tuk some big honour at de college, I jes' thought 
sho Mas' Jack 'u'd plum bus' hisse'f, he was so 
proud an' tickled. I hyeahd him talkin' to his 
ole frien' Cunnel Mandrey an' mekin' great 
plans 'bout whut he gwine to do when his son 
come home. He gwine tek him trav'lin' fus' 
in Eur'p, so 's to 'finish him lak a Venable ought 
to be finished by seein' somep'n' of de worP — ' 
dem's his ve'y words. Den he was a-gwine to 
come home an' 'model de house an' fit it up, 

142 



A FAMILY FEUD 

c fu" — I never shell fu'git how he said it, — c fV 
I 'spec' my son to tek a high place in de society 
of ole Kintucky an' to mo' dan surstain de repu- 
tation of de Venables.' Den when de las' day 
come an' young Mastah was home fu' sho, so 
fine an' clever lookin' wif his new mustache — 
sich times ez dey was erbout dat house nobidy 
never seed befo'. All de frien's an' neighbours, 
'scusin', o' co'se, de Jamiesons, was invited to 
a big dinner dat lasted fu' hours. Dey was 
speeches by de gent'men, an' evahbidy drinked 
de graderate's health an' wished him good luck. 
But all de time I could see dat Mas' Tho'nton 
was n't happy, dough he was smilin' an' mekin' 
merry wif evahbidy. It 'pressed me so dat I 
spoke erbout hit to Aunt Emmerline. Aunt 
Emmerline was Mas' Tho'nton's mammy, an' 
sence he 'd growed up, she did n't do much but 
he'p erroun' de house a little. 

" c You don' mean to tell me dat you noticed 
dat too ? ' says she when I toP huh erbout it. 

"'Yes, I did,' says I, c an' I noticed hit 
strong.' 

" ' Dey 's somep'n' ain't gwine right wif my 
po' chile,' she say, c an' dey ain't no teliin' whut 
it is.' 

i43 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

" c Hain't you got no idee, Aunt Emmerline ? ' 
I say. 

" ' La ! chile/ she say in a way dat mek me 
think she keepin' somep'n' back, c la ! chile, 
don' you know young mans don' come to dey 
mammys wif dey secuts lak dey do when dey 's 
babies ? How I gwine to know whut 's pes- 
terin' Mas' Tho'nton ? ' 

" Den I knowed she was hidin' somep'n', an' 
jes' to let huh know dat I 'd been had my eyes 
open too, I say slow an' 'pressive lak, ' Aunt 
Emmerline, don' you reckon hit Miss Nellie 
Jamieson ? ' She jumped lak she was skeered, 
an' looked at me right ha'd ; den she say, ' I 
ain' reck'nin' nuffin' 'bout de white folks' bus'- 
ness.' An' she pinched huh mouf up right 
tight, an' I could n't git another word outen huh; 
but I knowed dat I 'd hit huh jes' erbout right. 

"One mo'nin' erbout a week after de big 
dinner, jes' ez dey was eatin', Mas' Tho'nton 
say, c Father, I 'd lak to see you in de liberry ez 
soon ez you has de time. I want to speak to 
you 'bout somep'n' ve'y impo'tant.' De ole 
man look up right quick an' sha'p, but he say 
ve'y quiet lak, c Ve'y well, my son, ve'y well ; 
I 's at yo' service at once.' 

144 



A FAMILY FEUD 



cc 



Dey went into de liberry, an' Mas' Tho'n- 
ton shet de do' behin' him. I could hyeah dem 
talkin' kin' o' low while I was cl'arin' erway de 
dishes. After while dey 'menced to talk louder. 
I had to go out an' dus' de hall den near de 
liberry do', an' once I hyeahd ole Mas' say right 
sho't an' sha'p, 'Never ! ' Den young Mas' he 
say, ' But evah man has de right to choose fu' 
his own se'f.' 

" ' Man, man ! ' I hyeahd his pappy say in a 
way I had never hyeahd him use to his son 
befo', c evah male bein' dat wahs men's clothes 
an' has a mustache ain't a man.' 

" ' Man er whut not,' po' young Mastah's 
voice was a-tremblin', ' I am at leas' my father's 
son an' I deserve better dan dis at his han's.' 
I hyeahd somebody a-walkin' de flo', an' I was 
feared dey 'd come out an' think dat I was a-list- 
enin', so I dus'es on furder down de hall, an' 
did n't hyeah no mo' ontwell Mas' Tho'nton 
come hurryin' out an' say, ' Ike, saddle my 
hoss.' He was ez pale ez he could be, an' 
when he spoke sho't an' rough lak dat, he was 
so much lak his father dat hit skeered me. Ez 
soon ez his hoss was ready, he jumped into de 
saddle an' went flyin' outen de ya'd lak mad, 
io i 45 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

never eben lookin' back at de house. I did n't 
see Mas' Jack fu' de res' of de day, an' he did n't 
come in to suppah. But I seed Aunt Emmerline 
an' I knowed dat she had been somewhah an' 
knowed ez much ez I did erbout whut was 
gwine on, but I never broached a word erbout 
hit to huh. I seed she was oneasy, but I kep' 
still 'twell she say, c Whut you reckon keepin' 
Mas' Tho'nton out so late ? ' Den I jes say, 
c I ain't reck'nin' 'bout de white folks' bus'ness.' 
She looked a little bit cut at fus', den she jes' go 
on lak nuffin' had n't happened : ' I 's mighty 
'sturbed 'bout young Mas'; he never stays erway 
f'om suppah 'dout sayin' somep'n'.' 

" ' Oh, I reckon he kin fin' suppah somewhah 
else.' I says dis don't keer lak jes' fu' to lead 
huh on. 

" c I ain't so much pestered 'bout his suppah,' 
she say ; ' I 's feared he gwine do somep'n' he 
had n't ought to do after dat qua'l 'twixt him an' 
his pappy.' 

" c Did dey have a qua'l ? ' says I. 

" c G' long ! ' Aunt Emmerline say, c you was n't 
dus'in' one place in de hall so long fu' nuffin'. 
You knows an' I knows eben ef we don't talk 
a heap. I 's troubled myse'f. Hit jes' in 

146 



A FAMILY FEUD 

dat Venable blood to go right straight an' git 
Miss Nellie an' ma'y huh right erway, an' ef he 
do it, I p'intly know his pa '11 never fu'give 
him.' Den Aunt Emmerline 'mence to cry, 
an' I feel right sorry fu' huh, 'ca'se Mas' 
Tho'nton huh boy, an' she think a mighty 
heap o' him. 

u Well, we had n't had time to say much mo' 
when we hyeahd a hoss gallopin' into de ya'd. 
Aunt Emmerline jes' say, c Dat's Gineral's lope ! ' 
an' she bus' outen de do'. I waits, 'spectin' huh 
to come back an' say dat Mas' Tho'nton done 
come at las'. But after while she come in wif 
a mighty long face an' say, c Hit 's one o' Jamie- 
son's darkies ; he brung de hoss back an' a note 
Mas' gin him fu' his pappy. Mas' Tho'nton 
done gone to Lexin'ton wif Miss Nellie an' got 
ma'ied.' Den she jes' brek down an' 'mence 
a-cryin' ergin an' a-rockin' huhse'f back an fofe 
an' sayin', ' Oh, my po' chile, my po' boy, whut's 
to 'come o' you ! ' 

" I went upstairs an' lef ' huh — we bofe stayed 
at de big house — but I did n't sleep much, 'ca'se 
all thoo de night I could hyeah ole Mas' 
a-walkin' back an' fofe ercross his do', an' when 
Aunt Emmerline come up to baid, she mou'ned 

147 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

all night, eben in huh sleep. I tell you, honey, 
dem was mou'nin' times. 

" Nex' mo'nin' when ole Mas' come down to 
brekfus', he looked lak he done had a long spell 
o' sickness. But he was n't no man to 'spose his 
feelin's. He never let on, never eben spoke 
erbout Mas' Tho'nton bein' erway f 'om de table. 
He did n't eat much, an' fin'ly I see him look 
right long an' stiddy at de place whah Mas' 
Tho'nton used to set an' den git up an' go 'way 
f 'om de table. I knowed dat he was done filled 
up. I went to de liberry do' an' I could hyeah 
him sobbin' lak a chile. I toP Aunt Emmerline 
'bout it, but she jes' shuck huh haid an' did n't 
say nuffin' a'-tall. 

" Well, hit went dis erway fu' 'bout a week. 
Mas' Jack was gittin' paler an' paler evah day, 
an' hit jes' 'menced to come to my min' how ole 
he was. One day Aunt Emmerline say she 
gwine erway, an' she mek Jim hitch up de 
spring wagon an' she dribe on erway by huhse'f. 
Co'se, now, Aunt Emmerline she do putty much 
ez she please, so I don't think nuffin' 'bout hit. 
When she come back, 'long to'ds ebenin', I say, 
' Aunt Emmerline, whah you been all day ? ' 

" ' Nemmine, honey, you see,' she say, an' 

T48 



A FAMILY FEUD 

laff. Well, I ain't seed nobidy laff fu' so long 
dat hit jes mek me feel right wa'm erroun' my 
hea't, an' I laff an* keep on laffin' jes' at nuffin'. 

" Nex' mo'nin' Aunt Emmerline mighty on- 
easy, an' I don' know whut de matter ontwell I 
hyeah some un say, c Tek dat hoss, Ike, an' feed 
him, but keep de saddle on.' Aunt Emmerline jes' 
fa'ly fall out de do' an' I lak to drap, 'ca'se hit 's 
Mas' Tho'nton's voice. In a minute he come 
to me an' say, c Doshy, go tell my father I 'd 
lak to speak to him.' 

" I don' skeercely know how I foun' my way 
to de liberry, but I did. Ole Mas' was a-settin' 
dah wif a open book in his han', but his eyes 
was jes' a-starin' at de wall, an' I knowed he 
wasn't a-readin'. I say, 'Mas' Jack,' an' he 
sta't jes' lak he rousin' up, l Mas' Jack, Mas' 
Tho'nton want to speak to you.' He jump up 
quick, an' de book fall on de flo', but he grab a 
cheer an' stiddy hisse'f. I done tol' you Mas' 
Jack was n't no man to 'spose his feelin's. He 
jes' say, slow lak he hoPin' hisse'f, c Sen' him 
in hyeah.' I goes back an' 'livers de message, 
den I flies roun' to de po'ch whah de liberry 
winder opens out, 'ca'se, I ain't gwine lie erbout 
it, I was mighty tuk up wif all dis gwine on 

149 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

an' I wanted to see an' hyeah, — an' who you 
reckon 'roun' dah but Aunt Emmerline ! She 
jes' say, c S-sh ! ' ez I come 'roun', an' clas' huh 
han's. In a minute er so, de liberry do' open 
an' Mas' Tho'nton come in. He shet hit 
behin' him, an' den stood lookin' at his pa, dat 
ain't never tu'ned erroun' yit. Den he say sof ', 
c Father.' Mas' Jack tu'ned erroun' raal slow 
an' look at his son fu' a while. Den he say, 
c Do you still honour me wif dat name ? ' Mas' 
Tho'nton got red in de face, but he answer, 
4 1 don' know no other name to call you.' 

" ' Will you set down ? ' Mas' speak jes' 
lak he was a-talkin' to a stranger. 

" c Ef you desiah me to.' I see Mas' Tho'nton 
was a-bridlin' up too. Mas' jes' th'owed back 
his haid an' say, ' Fa' be it f'om any Venable to 
fu'git cou'tesy to his gues'.' Young Mas' moved 
erway f'om de cheer whah he was a-gwine to 
set, an' his haid went up. He spoke up slow 
an' delibut, jes' lak his pa, c I do not come, suh, 
in dat cha'acter, I is hyeah ez yo' son.' 

" Well, ole Mas' eyes fa'ly snapped fiah. He 
was white ez a sheet, but he still spoke slow 
an' quiet, hit made me creep, ' You air late in 
'memberin' yo' relationship, suh.' 

150 



A FAMILY FEUD 

" ' I hab never fu'got it.' 

" c Den, suh, you have thought mo' of yo' 
rights dan of yo' duties.' Mas' Jack was mad 
an' so was Mas' Tho'nton ; he say, ' I did n't 
come hyeah to 'scuss dat.' An' he tu'ned to'ds 
de do'. I hyeah Aunt Emmerline groan jes' ez 
Mas' say, c Well, whut did you come fu' ?' 

" ' To be insulted in my father's house by my 
father, an' I 's got all dat I come fu' ! ' Mas' 
Tho'nton was ez white ez his pa now, an' his 
han' was on de do'-knob. Den all of a sudden 
I hyeah de winder go up, an' I lak to fall over 
gittin' outen de way to keep Pom bein' seed. 
Aunt Emmerline done opened de winder an' 
gone in. Dey bofe tu'ned an' looked at huh 
s'prised lak, an' Mas' Jack sta'ted to say 
somep'n', but she th'owed up huh han' an' say 
c Wait ! ' lak she owned de house. ' Mas' Jack,' 
she say, ' you an' Mas' Tho'nton ain't gwine 
pa't dis way. You mus' n't. You 's father an' 
son. You loves one another. I knows I ain't 
got no bus'ness meddlin' in yo' 'fairs, but I cain't 
see you all qua'l dis way. Mastah, you 's bofe 
stiffnecked. You 's bofe wrong. I know Mas' 
Tho'nton did n't min' you, but he did n't mean 
no ha'm — he could n't he'p it — it was in de 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

Venable blood, an' you mus' n't 'spise him 
fu' it.' 

" ' Emmerline ' — ole Mas' tried to git in a 
word, but she would n't let him. 

" c Yes, Mastah, yes, but I nussed dat boy an' 
tuk keer o' him when he was a little bit of a 
he'pless thing ; an' when his po' mammy went 
to glory, I 'member how she look up at me wif 
dem blessed eyes o' hern an' lay him in my arms 
an' say, " Emmerline, tek keer o'my baby." I 's 
done it, Mastah, I 's done it de bes' I could. 
I 's nussed him thoo sickness when hit seemed 
lak his little soul mus' roller his mother any- 
how, but I 's seen de look in yo' eyes, an' 
prayed to God to gin de chile back to you. He 
done it$ he done it, an' you sha'n't th'ow erway 
de gif ' of God ! ' Aunt Emmerline was 
a-cryin' an' so was Mas' Tho'nton. Ole Mas' 
mighty red, but he clared his th'oat an' said wif 
his voice tremblin', c Emmerline, leave de room.' 
De ole ooman come out a-cryin' lak huh hea't 
'u'd brek, an' jes' ez de do' shet behin' huh, ole 
Mas' brek down an' hoi' out his arms, cryin', 
c My son, my son.' An' in a minute he an' 
Mas' Tho'nton was a-hol'in' one another lak 
dey 'd never let go, an' his pa was a-pattin' de 

152 



A FAMILY FEUD 

boy's haid lak he was a baby. All of a sudden 
ole Mas' heP him off an' looked at him an' say, 
c Dat ole fool talkin' to me erbout yo' mother's 
eyes, an' you stannin' hyeah a-lookin' at me wif 
'em.' An' den he was a-cryin' ergin, an' dey 
was bofe huggin'. 

" Well, after while dey got all settled down, 
an' Mas' Tho'nton tol' his pa how Aunt 
Emmerline drib to Lexin'ton an' foun' him 
an' made him come home. c I was wrong, 
father,' he say, c but I reckon ef it had n't 'a' 
been fu' Aunt Emmerline, I would 'a' stuck it 
out.' 

" c It was in de Venable blood,' his pa say, 
an' dey bofe laff. Den ole Mas' say, kin' o' 
lak it hu't him, ' An' whah 's yo' wife ? ' 
Young Mas' got mighty red ergin ez he 
answer, c She ain't fu' erway.' 

" ' Go bring huh,' Mas' Jack say. 

"Well, I reckon Mas' Tho'nton lak to flew, 
an' he had Miss Nellie dah in little er no time. 
When dey come, Mas' he say, c Come hyeah,' 
den he pause awhile — ' my daughter.' Den 
Miss Nellie run to him, an' dey was another 
cryin' time, an' I went on to my work an' leP 
'em talkin' an' laffin' an' cryin.' 

153 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

cc Well, Aunt Emmerline was skeered to def. 
She jes' p'intly knowed dat she was gwine to 
git a tongue-lashin'. I don' know whether she 
was mos' skeered er mos' happy. Mas' sont 
fu' huh after while, an' I listened when she went 
in. He was tryin' to talk an' look pow'ful 
stern, but I seed a twinkle in his eye. He say, 
' I want you to know, Emmerline, dat hit ain't 
yo' place to dictate to yo' mastah whut he 
shell do — Shet up, shet up! I don' want 
a word outen you. You been on dis place 
so long, an' been bossin' de other darkies an' 
yo' Mas' Tho'nton erroun' so long, dat I 'low 
you think you own de place. Shet up, not a 
word outen you ! Ef you an' yo' young Mas' 's 
a-gwine to run dis place, I reckon I 'd better 
step out. Humph! You was so sma't to go 
to Lexin'ton de other day, you kin go back dah 
ergin. You seem to think you 's white, an' 
hyeah 's de money to buy a new dress fu' de ole 
fool darky dat nussed yo' son an' made you 
fu'give his foo'ishness when you wanted to be a 
fool yo'se'f." His voice was sof ergin, an' 
he put de money in Aunt Emmerline's han' an' 
pushed huh out de do', huh a-cryin' an' him 
put' nigh it. 

154 



A FAMILY FEUD 

" After dis, Mas' Jack was jes' bent an' 
boun' dat de young people mus' go on a 
weddin' trip. So dey got ready, an' Miss Nellie 
went an' tol' huh pa goo'bye. Min' you, dey 
had n't been nuffin' said 'bout him an' Mas' not 
bein' frien's. He done fu'give Miss Nellie 
right erway fu' runnin' off. But de mo'nin' 
dey went erway, we all was out in de ya'd, an' 
Aunt Emmerline settin' on de seat wif Jim, 
lookin' ez proud ez you please. Mastah was 
ez happy ez a boy. ' Emmerline,' he hollahs 
ez dey drib off, ' tek good keer o' dat Venable 
blood.' De ca'iage stopped ez it went out de 
gate, an' Mas' Tom Jamieson kissed his daugh- 
ter. He had rid up de road to see de las' of 
huh. Mastah seed him, an' all of a sudden 
somep'n' seemed to tek holt o' him an' he 
hollahed, c Come in, Tom.' 

" c Don' keer ef I do,' Mas' Jamieson say, 
a-tu'nin' his hoss in de gate. ' You Venables 
has got de res' o' my fambly.' We all was 
mos' s'prised to def. 

" Mas' Jamieson jumped offen his hoss, an' 
Mas' Venable come down de steps to meet him. 
Dey shuk han's, an' Mas' Jack say, c Dey ain't 
no fool lak a ole fool.' 

iS5 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

" ' An' fu' unekaled foo'ishness,' Mas' Tom 
say, c reckernien' me to two ole fools.' Dey 
went into de house a-laffin', an' I knowed hit 
was all right 'twixt 'em, fu' putty soon I seed 
Ike out in de ya'd a-getherin' mint." 



156 



AUNT MANDY'S 
INVESTMENT 



r 57 



AUNT MANDY'S INVESTMENT 

The Coloured American Investment Company- 
was organised for the encouragement and benefit 
of the struggling among Americans of African 
descent ; at least, so its constitution said. 
Though truth was, Mr. Solomon Ruggles, the 
efficient president and treasurer of the institu- 
tion, usually represented the struggling when 
there were any benefits to receive. 

Indeed, Mr. Ruggles was the Coloured Amer- 
ican Investment Company. The people whom 
he persuaded to put their money into his concern 
were only accessories. Though a man of 
slight education, he was possessed of a liberal 
amount of that shrewd wit which allows its 
possessor to feed upon the credulity of others. 

Mr. Ruggles's motto was " It is better to be 
plausible than right," and he lived up to his 
principles with a fidelity that would have been 
commendable in a better cause. He was seldom 

*59 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

right, but he was always plausible. No one 
knew better than he how to bring out the good 
point of a bad article. He would have sold you 
a blind horse and convinced you that he was 
doing you a favour in giving you an animal that 
would not be frightened by anything he saw. 
No one but he could have been in a city so 
short a time and yet gained to such an extent 
the confidence and cash of the people about 
him. 

When a coloured man wishes to start a stock 
company, he issues a call and holds a mass meet- 
ing. This is what Solomon Ruggles did. A 
good many came. Some spoke for and some 
against the movement, but the promoter's 
plausible argument carried the day. 

" Gent'men," he said, " my fellow colo'ed 
brotheren, I jest want to say this to you, that 
we Af'-Americans been ca'yin' a leaky bucket 
to the well too long. We git the stream from 
the ground, an' back to the ground it goes befoah 
we kin git any chance to make use o' what 
we 've drawed. But, not to speak in meter- 
phers, this is what I mean. I mean that we 
work for the white folks for their money. All 
they keer about us is ouah work, an' all we keer 

1 60 



AUNT MANDY'S INVESTMENT 

about them is their money ; but what do we do 
with it when we git it ? I '11 tell you what we 
do with it ; we take an' give it right back to 
the white folks fu' somef 'n' or other we want, 
an' so they git ouah labour, an' ouah money too. 
Ain't that the truth ? " 

There were cries of u Yes, indeed, that 's so ; 
you 're right, sho ! " 

" Well, now, do you want this hyeah thing 
to go on ? " 

" No ! " from a good many voices. 

" Then how are we going to stop it ? " Mr. 
Ruggles paused. No one answered. " Why," 
he resumed, " by buyin' from ourselves, that 's 
how. We all put in so much ev'ry week till 
we git enough to buy things of ouah own ; then 
we '11 jest pat'onise ouahselves. Don't you see 
it can't fail ? " 

The audience did. 

Brother Jeremiah Buford rose and " hea'tily 
concuhed in what the brothah had said; " and 
dapper little Spriggins, who was said to be study- 
ing law, and to be altogether as smart as a whip, 
expressed his pleasure that a man of such enter- 
prise had come among them to wake the coloured 
people up to a sense of their condition and to 
n 161 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

show them a way out of it. So the idea which 
had been formulated in the fecund brain of 
Solomon Ruggles became a living, active reality. 
His project once on foot, it was easy enough 
to get himself elected president and treasurer. 
This was quite little enough to do for a man 
whose bright idea might make them all rich, so 
thought the stockholders or prospective stock- 
holders who attended the meeting, and some 
who came to scoff remained to pay. It was 
thus that the famous Coloured Improvement 
Company sprang into life. 

It was a Saturday afternoon of the third week 
after the formation of the company that Mr. 
Ruggles sat in the "firm's" office alone. There 
was a cloud upon his face. It was the day 
when most of the stockholders brought in 
their money, but there had been a picnic the 
day before, and in consequence a distinct falling 
off in the receipts of the concern. This state 
of affairs especially annoyed the president and 
treasurer, because that dual official had just in- 
volved himself in some new obligations on the 
strength of what that day would bring him. It 
was annoying. Was it any wonder, then, that 
his brow cleared and a smile lightened up his 

162 



AUNT MANDY'S INVESTMENT 

rather pleasant features when the door opened 
and an old woman entered ? 

" Ah, madam, good afternoon," said the 
Coloured American Investment Company, rub- 
bing its hands ; " and what kin I do fer you ? ' 

The old lady timidly approached the table 
which the official used as a desk. " Is you 
Mistah Ruggles?" she asked. 

" I have the honah to bear that name," was 
the bland response. 

" Well, I got a little money dat I wants to 
Vest in yo' comp'ny. I 's hyeahd tell dat ef 
you put yo' money in dere hit jes' lays and 
grows." 

" That 's the princerple we go on, to take 
small investments and give back big profits." 

" Well, I 's sho' dat my 'vestment 's small 
'nough, but I been savin' it a mighty long 
while." The old woman drew a weather- 
beaten purse from her pocket, and Solomon 
Ruggles's eyes glistened with expectation as he 
saw it. His face fell, though, when he saw 
that it held but little. However, every little 
helps, and he brightened again as the old lady 
counted, slowly and tremblingly, the small store 
of only five dollars in all. 

163 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

Ruggles took the money in his eager palms. 
"Of course, Mrs. — " 

" Mandy Smif 's my name." 

u Of course, we can't promise you no fortune 
in return fu' an investment of fi' dollahs, but 
we '11 do the bes' we kin fu' you." 

" I do' want no fortune ner nothin' lak dat. 
What I wants is a little mo' money — 'cause 
— 'cause I got a boy ; he alius been a good boy 
to me an' tuk keer o' me, but he thought 
he would do bettah out West, so he went 
out dere, an* fu' a while he got along all 
right an' sent me money reg'lar. Den he took 
down sick an' got out o' work. It was ha'd fu' 
me to git along 'dout his he'p, 'cause I 's old. 
But dat ain't what hu'ts me. I don' keer nuffin' 
'bout myse'f. I 's willin' to sta've ef I could 
jes' sen' fu' dat boy an' bring him home so 's I 
could nuss him. Dat 's de reason I 's a-'vestin' 
dis money." 

Solomon Ruggles fingered the bills nervously. 

" You know when a boy 's sick dey ain't no- 
bidy kin nuss lak his own mothah kin, fu' she 
nussed him when he was a baby ; he 's pa't o' 
huh, an' she knows his natur'. Yo' mothah 
livin', Mistah Ruggles ? " 

164 



AUNT MANDY'S INVESTMENT 

" Yes, 'way down South — she 's ve'y ol'." 

" I reckon some o' us ol' folks does live too 
long past dey times." 

"No, you don't; you couldn't. I wish to 
God the world was full of jest sich ol' people as 
you an' my mothah is." 

" Bless you, honey, I laks to hyeah you talk 
dat way 'bout yo' mammy. I ain' 'fred to trus' 
my money wif no man dat knows how to 'spect 
his mothah." The old woman rose to go. 
Ruggles followed her to the door. He was 
trembling with some emotion. He shook the 
investor warmly by the hand as he bade her 
good-bye. " I shall do the ve'y bes' I kin fu' 
you," he said. 

" How soon kin I hyeah 'bout it ? " 

" I 've took yo' address, an' you kin expect 
to hyeah from me in a week's time — that 's 
sooner than we do anything fu' most of ouah 
customers." 

" Thanky, sir, fu' the favour ; thanky, an' 
good-bye, Mistah Ruggles." 

The head of the company went in and sat 
for a long time dreaming over his table. 

A week later an angry crowd of coloured 
investors stood outside the office of the Coloured 

165 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

Improvement Company. The office was closed 
to all business, and diligent search failed to 
reveal the whereabouts of Mr. Solomon Ruggles. 
The investors knew themselves to be the vic- 
tims of a wily swindler, and they were furious. 
Dire imprecations were hurled at the head of 
the defaulting promoter. But, as the throng 
was spending its breath in vain anger, an old 
woman with smiling face worked her way 
through them toward the door. 

" Let me th'oo," she said ; " I want to fin' 
Mistah Ruggles." 

" Yes, all of us do. Has he cheated you, 
too, Auntie ? " 

" Cheated me ? What 's de matter wif you, 
man ? I put f? dollahs in hyeah las' week, an' 
look at dat ! " 

The old woman waved some bills in the air 
and a letter with them. Some one took it from 
her hand and read : — 

Dear Mrs. Smith, — I am glad to say that yore in- 
t' rust 'cumulated faster than usu'l, so I kan inklose 
you heerwith $15. I am sorry I shall not see you 
again, az I am kalled away on bizness. 

Very respectably yores, 

S. Ruggles. 
166 



AUNT MANDY'S INVESTMENT 

The men looked at each other in surprise, 
and then they began to disperse. Some one 
said : " I reckon he mus' be all right, aftah all. 
Aunt Mandy got huh div'den'." 

" I reckon he 's comin' back all right," said 
another. 

But Mr. Ruggles did not come back. 



167 



THE INTERVENTION 
OF PETER 



169 



THE INTERVENTION OF PETER 

No one knows just what statement it was of 
Harrison Randolph's that Bob Lee doubted. 
The annals of these two Virginia families have 
not told us that. But these are the facts : — 

It was at the home of the Fairfaxes that a 
few of the sons of the Old Dominion were 
giving a dinner, — not to celebrate anything in 
particular, but the joyousness of their own 
souls, — and a brave dinner it was. The 
courses had come and gone, and over their 
cigars they had waxed more than merry. In 
those days men drank deep, and these men 
were young, full of the warm blood of the 
South and the joy of living. What wonder 
then that the liquor that had been mellowing 
in the Fairfax cellars since the boyhood of their 
revolutionary ancestor should have its effect 
upon them? 

It is true that it was only a slight thing which 
Bob Lee affected to disbelieve, and that his tone 
was jocosely bantering rather than impertinent. 

171 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

But sometimes Virginia heads are not less hot 
than Virginia hearts. The two young men 
belonged to families that had intermarried. 
They rode together. They hunted together, 
and were friends as far as two men could be 
who had read the message of love in the dark 
eyes of the same woman. So perhaps there was 
some thought of the long-contested hand of 
Miss Sallie Ford in Harrison Randolph's mind 
when he chose to believe that his honour had 
been assailed. 

His dignity was admirable. There was no 
scene to speak of. It was all very genteel. 

" Mr. Lee," he said, " had chosen to doubt 
his word, which to a gentleman was the final 
insult. But he felt sure that Mr. Lee would not 
refuse to accord him a gentleman's satisfaction." 
And the other's face had waxed warm and red 
and his voice cold as he replied : " I shall be 
most happy to give you the satisfaction you 
demand." 

Here friends interposed and attempted to 
pacify the two. But without avail. The wine 
of the Fairfaxes has a valiant quality in it, and 
these two who had drunken of it could not be 
peaceably reconciled. 

172 



THE INTERVENTION OF PETER 

Each of the young gentlemen nodded to a 
friend and rose to depart. The joyous dinner- 
party bade fair to end with much more serious 
business. 

" You shall hear from me very shortly," said 
Randolph, as he strode to the door. 

u I shall await your pleasure with impatience, 
sir, and give you such a reply as even you 
cannot disdain." 

It was all rather high-flown, but youth is 
dramatic and plays to the gallery of its own 
eyes and ears. But to one pair of ears there 
was no ring of anything but tragedy in the 
grandiloquent sentences. Peter, the personal 
attendant of Harrison Randolph, stood at the 
door as his master passed out, and went on 
before him to hold his stirrup. The young 
master and his friend and cousin, Dale, started 
off briskly and in silence, while Pete, with wide 
eyes and disturbed face, followed on behind. 
Just as they were turning into the avenue of 
elms that led to their own house, Randolph 
wheeled his horse and came riding back to 
his servant. 

u Pete," said he, sternly, " what do you 
know ? " 

i73 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

« Nuffin', Mas' Ha'ison, nuffin' 't all. I do' 
know nuffin'." 

" I don't believe you." The young master's 
eyes were shining through the dusk. " You 're 
always slipping around spying on me." 

" Now dah you goes, Mas' Randolph. I ain't 
done a t'ing, and you got to 'mence pickin' on 
me — 

" I just want you to remember that my busi- 
ness is mine." 

"Well, I knows dat." 

" And if you do know anything, it will be 
well for you to begin forgetting right now." 
They were at the door now and in the act of 
dismounting. " Take Bess around and see her 
attended to. Leave Dale's horse here, and — 
I won't want you any more to-night." 

" Now how does you an' Mas' Dale 'spect 
dat you gwine to wait on yo'se'ves to-night ? " 

" I shall not want you again to-night, I tell 
you." 

Pete turned away with an injured expression 
on his dark face. " Bess," he said to the 
spirited black mare as he led her toward the 
stables, " you jes' bettah t'ank yo' Makah dat 
you ain't no human-bein', 'ca'se human-bein's 

174 



THE INTERVENTION OF PETER 

is cur'ous articles. Now you 's a hoss, ain't 
you ? An' dey say you ain't got no soul, but 
you got sense, Bess, you got sense. You got 
blood an' fiah an' breedin' in you too, ain't 
you ? Co'se you has. But you knows how to 
answah de rein. You 's a high steppah, too: 
but you don' go to work an' try to brek yo' 
naik de fus' chanst you git. Bess, I 'spect you 
'ca'se you got jedgment, an' you don' have to 
have a black man runnin' 'roun aftah you all 
de time plannin' his haid off jes' to keep you 
out o' trouble. Some folks dat 's human-bein's 
does. Yet an' still, Bess, you ain't nuffin' but 
a dumb beas', so dey says. Now, what I gwine 
to do ? Co'se dey wants to fight. But whah 
an' when an' how I gwine to stop hit ? Do' 
want me to wait on him to-night, huh ! No, 
dey want to mek dey plans an' do' want me 
'roun' to hyeah, dat 's what 's de mattah. Well, 
I lay I '11 hyeah somep'n' anyhow." 

Peter hurried through his work and took 
himself up to the big house and straight to his 
master's room. He heard voices within, but 
though he took many liberties with his owner, 
eavesdropping was not one of them. It proved 
too dangerous. So, though " he kinder lingered 

i75 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

on the mat, some doubtful of the sekle," it was 
not for long, and he unceremoniously pushed the 
door open and walked in. With a great show of 
haste, he made for his master's wardrobe and 
began busily searching among the articles therein. 
Harrison Randolph and his cousin were in the 
room, and their conversation, which had been 
animated, suddenly ceased when Peter entered. 

" I thought I told you I did n't want you any 
more to-night." 

" I 's a-lookin' fu' dem striped pants o' yo'n. 
I want to tek 'em out an' bresh 'em : dey 's 
p'intly a livin' sight." 

" You get out o' here." 

"But, Mas' Ha'ison, now — now — look — 
a — hyeah — " 

" Get out, I tell you — " 

Pete shuffled from the room, mumbling as he 
went : " Dah now, dah now ! driv' out lak a 
dog ! How 's I gwine to fin* out anyt'ing 
dis away ? It do 'pear lak Mas' Ha'ison do 
try to gi'e me all de trouble he know how. 
Now he plannin' an' projickin' wif dat cousin 
Dale, an' one jes' ez scattah-brained ez de 
othah. Well, I 'low I got to beat dey time 
somehow er ruther." 

176 



THE INTERVENTION OF PETER 

He was still lingering hopeless and worried 
about the house when he saw young Dale Ran- 
dolph come out, mount his horse and ride away. 
After a while his young master also came out 
and walked up and down in the soft evening 
air. The rest of the family were seated about 
on the broad piazza. 

" I wonder what is the matter with Harrison 
to-night," said the young man's father, " he 
seems so preoccupied." 

"Thinking of Sallie Ford, I reckon," some 
one replied ; and the remark passed with a laugh. 
Pete was near enough to catch this, but he did 
not stop to set them right in their conjectures. 
He slipped into the house as noiselessly as 
possible. 

It was less than two hours after this when 
Dale Randolph returned and went immediately 
to his cousin's room, where Harrison followed 
him. 

" Well ? " said the latter, as soon as the door 
closed behind them. 

" It 's all arranged, and he 's anxious to 
hurry it through for fear some one may inter- 
fere. Pistols, and to-morrow morning at day- 
break." 

12 jjy 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

" And the place ? " 

"The little stretch of woods that borders 
Ford's Creek. I say, Harrison, it is n't too late 
to stop this thing yet. It 's a shame for you 
two fellows to fight. You 're both too decent 
to be killed for a while yet." 

" He insulted me." 

" Without intention, every one believes." 

"Then let him apologise." 

" As well ask the devil to take Communion." 

" We '11 fight then." 

" All right. If you must fight, you must. 
But you 'd better get to bed ; for you '11 need a 
strong arm and a steady hand to-morrow." 

If a momentary paleness struck into the young 
fellow's face, it was for a moment only, and he 
set his teeth hard before he spoke. 

" I am going to write a couple of letters," he 
said, " then I shall lie down for an hour or so. 
Shall we go down and drink a steadier? ' : 

" One won't hurt, of course." 

" And, by the way, Dale, if I — if it happens 
to be me to-morrow, you take Pete — he 's a 
good fellow." 

The cousins clasped hands in silence and 
passed out. As the door closed behind them, a 

178 



THE INTERVENTION OF PETER 

dusty form rolled out from under the bed, and 
the disreputable, eavesdropping, backsliding Pete 
stood up and rubbed a sleeve across his eyes. 

" It ain't me dat 's gwine to be give to nobody 
else. I hates to do it, but dey ain't no othah 
way. Mas' Ha'ison cain't be spaihed." He 
glided out mysteriously, some plan of salvation 
working in his black head. 

Just before daybreak next morning, three 
stealthy figures crept out and made their way 
toward Ford's Creek. One skulked behind the 
other two, dogging their steps and taking advan- 
tage of the darkness to keep very near to them. 
At the grim trysting-place they halted and were 
soon joined by other stealthy figures, and together 
they sat down to wait for the daylight. The 
seconds conferred for a few minutes. The 
ground was paced ofF, and a few low-pitched 
orders prepared the young men for business. 

u I will count three, gentlemen," said Lieu- 
tenant Custis. " At three, you are to fire." 

At last daylight came, gray and timid at first, 
and then red and bold as the sun came clearly 
up. The pistols were examined and the men 
placed face to face. 

179 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

u Are you ready, gentlemen ? " 

But evidently Harrison Randolph was not. 
He was paying no attention to the seconds. 
His eyes were fixed on an object behind his 
opponent's back. His attitude relaxed and his 
mouth began twitching. Then he burst into a 
peal of laughter. 

"Pete," he roared, "drop that and come out 
from there ! " and away he went into another 
convulsion of mirth. The others turned just in 
time to see Pete cease his frantic grimaces of 
secrecy at his master, and sheepishly lower an 
ancient fowling-piece which he had had levelled 
at Bob Lee. 

" What were you going to do with that gun 
levelled at me ? " asked Lee, his own face 
twitching. 

" I was gwine to fiah jes' befo' dey said free. 
I wa'n't gwine to kill you, Mas' Bob. I was 
on'y gwine to lame you." 

Another peal of laughter from the whole 
crowd followed this condescending statement. 

" You unconscionable scoundrel, you ! If I 
was your master, I 'd give you a hundred lashes." 

" Pete," said his master, " don't you know 
that it is dishonourable to shoot a man from be- 

180 



THE INTERVENTION OF PETER 

hind ? You see you have n't in you the making 
of a gentleman." 

" I do' know nuffin' 'bout mekin' a gent' man, 
but I does know how to save one dat 's already 
made." 

The prime object of the meeting had been 
entirely forgotten. They gathered around Pete 
and examined the weapon. 

" Gentlemen," said Randolph, " we have been 
saved by a miracle. This old gun, as well as I 
can remember and count, has been loaded for 
the past twenty-five years, and if Pete had tried 
to fire it, it would have torn up all of this part 
of the county." Then the eyes of the two 
combatants met. There was something irresis- 
tibly funny in the whole situation, and they found 
themselves roaring again. Then, with one im- 
pulse, they shook hands without a word. 

And Pete led the way home, the willing butt 
of a volume of good-natured abuse. 



181 



NELSE HATTON'3 
VENGEANCE 



183 



NELSE HATTON'S VENGEANCE 

It was at the close of a summer day, and the 
sun was sinking dimly red over the hills of the 
little Ohio town which, for convenience, let 
us call Dexter. 

The people had eaten their suppers, and the 
male portion of the families had come out in 
front of their houses to smoke and rest or read 
the evening paper. Those who had porches 
drew their rockers out on them, and sat with 
their feet on the railing. Others took their 
more humble positions on the front steps, while 
still others, whose houses were flush with the 
street, went even so far as to bring their chairs 
out upon the sidewalk, and over all there was 
an air of calmness and repose save when a 
glance through the open doors revealed the 
housewives busy at their evening dishes, or 
the blithe voices of the children playing in the 
street told that little Sally Waters was a-sitting 
in a saucer or asserted with doubtful veracity 
that London Bridge was falling down. Here 

185 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

and there a belated fisherman came straggling 
up the street that led from the river, every now 
and then holding up his string of slimy, wig- 
gling catfish in answer to the query " Wha' 
? d you ketch ? " 

To one who knew the generous and unpreju- 
diced spirit of the Dexterites, it was no matter 
of wonder that one of their soundest and most 
highly respected citizens was a coloured man, 
and that his home should nestle unrebuked 
among the homes of his white neighbours. 

Nelse Hatton had won the love and respect 
of his fellow-citizens by the straightforward 
honesty of his conduct and the warmth of his 
heart. Everybody knew him. He had been 
doing chores about Dexter, — cutting grass in 
summer, cleaning and laying carpets in the 
spring and fall, and tending furnaces in the 
winter, — since the time when, a newly emanci- 
pated man, he had passed over from Kentucky 
into Ohio. Since then through thrift he had 
attained quite a competence, and, as he him- 
self expressed it, " owned some little propity." 
He was one among the number who had arisen 
to the dignity of a porch ; and on this evening 
he was sitting thereon, laboriously spelling out 

186 




wita'd you catch?" 



NELSE HATTON'S VENGEANCE 

the sentences in the Evening News — his read- 
ing was a post-bellum accomplishment — when 
the oldest of his three children, Theodore, a boy 
of twelve, interrupted him with the intelligence 
that there was an " old straggler at the back 
door." 

After admonishing the hope of his years as 
to the impropriety of applying such a term to 
an unfortunate, the father rose and sought the 
place where the "straggler" awaited him. 

Nelse's sympathetic heart throbbed with 
pity at the sight that met his eye. The 
" straggler," a "thing of shreds and patches," 
was a man about his own age, nearing fifty ; 
but what a contrast he was to the well-preserved, 
well-clothed black man ! His gray hair straggled 
carelessly about his sunken temples, and the 
face beneath it was thin and emaciated. The 
hands that pulled at the fringe of the ragged 
coat were small and bony. But both the face 
and the hands were clean, and there was an 
open look in the bold, dark eye. 

In strong contrast, too, with his appearance 
was the firm, well-modulated voice, somewhat 
roughened by exposure, in which he said, "I 
am very hungry; will you give me something 

187 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

to eat ? " It was a voice that might have 
spoken with authority. There was none of the 
beggar's whine in it. It was clear and straight- 
forward ; and the man spoke the simple sentence 
almost as if it had been a protest against his sad 
condition. 

u Jes' set down on the step an' git cool," 
answered Nelse, " an' I '11 have something put 
on the table." 

The stranger silently did as he was bidden, 
and his host turned into the house. 

Eliza Hatton had been quietly watching pro- 
ceedings, and as her husband entered the kitchen 
she said, " Look a-here, Nelse, you shorely 
ain't a-goin' to have that tramp in the kitchen 
a-settin' up to the table ? " 

"Why, course," said Nelse; "he's human, 
ain't he ? " 

" That don't make no difference. I bet none 
of these white folks round here would do it." 

" That ain't none of my business," answered 
her husband. " I believe in every person doin' 
their own duty. Put somethin' down on the 
table ; the man 's hungry. An' don't never git 
stuck up, 'Lizy ; you don't know what our 
children have got to come to." 

188 



NELSE HATTON'S VENGEANCE 

Nelse Hatton was a man of few words ; but 
there was a positive manner about him at 
times that admitted of neither argument nor 
resistance. 

His wife did as she was bidden, and then 
swept out in the majesty of wounded dignity, as 
the tramp was ushered in and seated before the 
table whose immaculate white cloth she had 
been prudent enough to change for a red one. 

The man ate as if he were hungry, but always 
as if he were a hungry gentleman. There was 
something in his manner that impressed Nelse 
that he was not feeding a common tramp as he 
sat and looked at his visitor in polite curiosity. 
After a somewhat continued silence he addressed 
the man : " Why don't you go to your own 
people when you 're hungry instead of coming 
to us coloured folks ? " 

There was no reproof in his tone, only 
inquiry. 

The stranger's eyes flashed suddenly. 

" Go to them up here ? " he said ; " never. 
They would give me my supper with their 
hypocritical patronage and put it down to charity. 
You give me something to eat as a favour. 
Your gift proceeds from disinterested kind- 

189 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

ness ; they would throw me a bone because 
they thought it would weigh something in the 
balance against their sins. To you I am an 
unfortunate man ; to them I am a tramp." 

The stranger had spoken with much heat and 
no hesitation ; but his ardour did not take the 
form of offence at Nelse's question. He seemed 
perfectly to comprehend the motive which actu- 
ated it. 

Nelse had listened to him with close atten- 
tion, and at the end of his harangue he said, 
" You had n't ought to be so hard on your own 
people; they mean well enough." 

" My own people ! " the stranger flashed 
back. "My people are the people of the 
South, — the people who have in their veins the 
warm, generous blood of Dixie ! " 

"I don't see what you stay in the North fur 
ef you don't like the people." 

" I am not staying ; I'm getting away from 
it as fast as I can. I only came because I 
thought, like a lot of other poor fools, that the 
North had destroyed my fortunes and it might 
restore them ; but five years of fruitless struggle 
in different places out of Dixie have shown me 
that it is n't the place for a man with blood in 

190 



NELSE HATTON'S VENGEANCE 

his veins. I thought that I was reconstructed; 
but I 'm not. My State did n't need it, but I 
did." 

"Where 're you from? " 

" Kentucky ; and there 's where I 'm bound 
for now. I want to get back where people have 
hearts and sympathies." 

The coloured man was silent. After a while 
he said, and his voice was tremulous as he 
thought of the past, " I 'm from Kintucky, 
myself." 

" I knew that you were from some place in 
the South. There 's no mistaking our people, 
black or white, wherever you meet them. 
Kentucky 's a great State, sir. She did n't 
secede; but there were lots of her sons on the 
other side. I was ; and I did my duty as clear 
as I could see it." 

" That's all any man kin do," said Nelse ; 
cc an' I ain't a-blamin' you. I lived with as 
good people as ever was. I know they would n't 
'a' done nothin' wrong ef they 'd 'a' knowed it 5 
an' they was on the other side." 

" You 've been a slave, then ? " 

" Oh, yes, I was born a slave ; but the War 
freed me." 

191 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

" I reckon you would n't think that my folks 
ever owned slaves ; but they did. Everybody 
was good to them except me, and I was young 
and liked to show my authority. I had a little 
black boy that I used to cuff around a good 
deal, altho' he was near to me as a brother. 
But sometimes he would turn on me and give 
me the trouncing that I deserved. He would 
have been skinned for it if my father had found 
it out; but I was always too much ashamed of 
being thrashed to tell." 

The speaker laughed, and Nelse joined him. 
" Bless my soul ! " he said, " ef that ain't jes' 
the way it was with me an' my Mas' Tom — " 

" Mas' Tom ! " cried the stranger ; " man, 
what's your name ? " 

" Nelse Hatton," replied the Negro. 

"Heavens, Nelse! I'm your young Mas' 
Tom. I 'm Tom Hatton ; don't you know 
me, boy ? " 

"You can't be — you can't be!" exclaimed 
the Negro. 

" I am, I tell you. Don't you remember the 
scar I got on my head from falling off old 
Baldy's back ? Here it is. Can't you see ? ' 
cried the stranger, lifting the long hair away 

192 



NELSE HATTON'S VENGEANCE 

from one side of his brow. " Does n't this 
convince you ? " 

" It 's you — it 's you ; 't ain't nobody else but 
Mas' Tom ! " and the ex-slave and his former 
master rushed joyously into each other's arms. 

There was no distinction of colour or condi- 
tion there. There was no thought of superior- 
ity on the one hand, or feeling of inferiority on 
the other. They were simply two loving friends 
who had been long parted and had met again. 

After a while the Negro said, " I 'm sure 
the Lord must 'a' sent you right here to this 
house, so 's you would n't be eatin' off o' none 
o' these poor white people 'round here." 

"I reckon you 're religious now, Nelse; but 
I see it ain't changed your feeling toward poor 
white people." 

" I don't know about that. I used to be 
purty bad about 'em." 

" Indeed you did. Do you remember the 
time we stoned the house of old Nat, the white 
wood-sawyer ? " 

" Well, I reckon I do ! Was n't we awful, 
them days ? " said Nelse, with forced contrition, 
but with something almost like a chuckle in his 
voice. 

13 193 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

And yet there was a great struggle going on 
in the mind of this black man. Thirty years of 
freedom and the advantages of a Northern State 
made his whole soul revolt at the word u mas- 
ter." But that fine feeling, that tender sym- 
pathy, which is natural to the real Negro, made 
him hesitate to make the poor wreck of former 
glory conscious of his changed estate by using 
a different appellation. His warm sympathies 
conquered. 

" I want you to see my wife and boys, Mas' 
Tom," he said, as he passed out of the room. 

Eliza Hatton sat in her neatly appointed little 
front room, swelling with impotent rage. 

If this story were chronicling the doings of 
some fanciful Negro, or some really rude planta- 
tion hand, it might be said that the " front 
room was filled with a conglomeration of cheap 
but pretentious furniture, and the walls covered 
with gaudy prints" — this seems to be the usual 
phrase. But in it the chronicler too often for- 
gets how many Negroes were house-servants, 
and from close contact with their master's 
families imbibed aristocratic notions and quiet 
but elegant tastes. 

This front room was very quiet in its appoint- 

194 



NELSE HATTON'S VENGEANCE 

ments. Everything in it was subdued except — 
Mrs. Hatton. She was rocking back and forth 
in a light little rocker that screeched the indig- 
nation she could not express. She did not 
deign to look at Nelse as he came into the 
room ; but an acceleration of speed on the part 
of the rocker showed that his presence was 
known. 

Her husband's enthusiasm suddenly died out 
as he looked at her ; but he put on a brave face 
as he said, — 

" 'Lizy, I bet a cent you can't guess who 
that pore man in there is." 

The rocker suddenly stopped its violent mo- 
tion with an equally violent jerk, as the angry 
woman turned upon her husband. 

" No, I can't guess," she cried ; " an' I don't 
want to. It 's enough to be settin' an on'ry ol' 
tramp down to my clean table, without havin' 
me spend my time guessin' who he is." 

" But look a-here, 'Lizy, this is all different ; 
an' you don't understand." 

" Don't care how different it is, I do' want 
to understand." 

" You '11 be mighty su'prised, I tell you." 

"I 'low I will; I 'm su'prised already at you 

*95 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

puttin' yourself on a level with tramps." This 
with fine scorn. 

" Be careful, 'Lizy, be careful ; you don't 
know who a tramp may turn out to be." 

" That ol' humbug in there has been tellin' 
you some big tale, an' you ain't got no more 
sense 'an to believe it ; I 'spect he 's crammin' 
his pockets full of my things now. Ef you 
don't care, I do." 

The woman rose and started toward the door, 
but her husband stopped her. " You must n't 
go out there that way," he said. " I want you 
to go out, you an' the childern ; but I want you to 
go right — that man is the son of my ol' master, 
my young Mas' Tom, as I used to call him." 

She fell back suddenly and stared at him with 
wide-open eyes. 

"Your master ! " 

" Yes, it 's young Mas' Tom Hatton." 

" An' you want me an' the childern to see 
him, do you ? " 

" Why, yes, I thought — " 

u Humph ! that 's the slave in you yet," she 
interrupted. " I thought thirty years had made 
you free ! Ain't that the man you told me used 
to knock you 'round so ? " 

196 



NELSE HATTON'S VENGEANCE 

" Yes, 'Lizy ; but — " 

" Ain't he the one that made you haul him in 
the wheelbar', an' whipped you because you 
could n't go fast enough ? " 

" Yes, yes ; but that — " 

" Ain't he the one that lef ' that scar there ? " 
she cried, with a sudden motion of her hand 
toward his neck. 

" Yes," said Nelse, very quietly ; but he put 
his hand up and felt the long, cruel scar that the 
lash of a whip had left, and a hard light came 
into his eyes. 

His wife went on : " An' you want to take 
me an' the childern in to see that man ? No ! " 
The word came with almost a snarl. " Me an' 
my childern are free born, an', ef I kin help it, 
they sha'n't never look at the man that laid the 
lash to their father's back ! Shame on you, 
Nelse, shame on you, to want your childern, 
that you 're tryin' to raise independent, — to 
want 'em to see the man that you had to call 
'master'! " 

The man's lips quivered, and his hand opened 
and shut with a convulsive motion ; but he said 
nothing. 

" What did you tell me ? " she asked. "Did n't 

197 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

you say that if you ever met him again in this 
world you 'd — " 

" Kill him ! " burst forth the man ; and all the 
old, gentle look had gone out of his face, and 
there was nothing but fierceness and bitterness 
there, as his mind went back to his many 
wrongs. 

" Go on away from the house, 'Lizy," he said 
hoarsely ; " if anything happens, I do' want you 
an' the childern around." 

" I do' want you to kill him, Nelse, so you '11 
git into trouble ; but jes' give him one good 
whippin' for those he used to give you." 

" Go on away from the house ; " and the 
man's lips were tightly closed. She threw a 
thin shawl over her head and went out. 

As soon as she had gone Nelse's intense feel- 
ing got the better of him, and, falling down with 
his face in a chair, he cried, in the language 
which the Sunday sermons had taught him, 
" Lord, Lord, thou hast delivered mine enemy 
into my hands ! " 

But it was not a prayer ; it was rather a cry 
of anger and anguish from an overburdened 
heart. He rose, with the same hard gleam in 
his eyes, and went back toward the kitchen. 

198 



NELSE HATTON'S VENGEANCE 

One hand was tightly clinched till the muscles 
and veins stood out like cords, and with the 
other he unconsciously fingered the lash's scar. 

" Could n't find your folks, eh, Nelse ? " said 
the white Hatton. 

" No," growled Nelse ; and continued hur- 
riedly, " Do you remember that scar ? " 

" Well enough — well enough," answered 
the other, sadly ; " and it must have hurt you, 
Nelse." 

" Hurt me ! yes," cried the Negro. 

" Ay," said Tom Hatton, as he rose and put 
his hand softly on the black scar ; u and it has 
hurt me many a day since, though time and time 
again I have suffered pains that were as cruel as 
this must have been to you. Think of it, Nelse ; 
there have been times when I, a Hatton, have 
asked bread of the very people whom a few 
years ago I scorned. Since the War everything 
has gone against me. You do not know how I 
have suffered. For thirty years life has been a 
curse to me ; but I am going back to Kentucky 
now, and when I get there I '11 lay it down 
without a regret." 

All the anger had melted from the Negro's 
face, and there were tears in his eyes as he 

199 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

cried, "You sha'n't do it, Mas' Tom, — you 
sha'n't do it." 

His destructive instinct had turned to one of 
preservation. 

" But, Nelse, I have no further hopes," said 
the dejected man. 

" You have, and you shall have. You 're 
goin' back to Kintucky, an' you 're goin' back a 
gentleman. I kin he'p you, an' I will; you're 
welcome to the last I have." 

" God bless you, Nelse — " 

" Mas' Tom, you used to be jes' about my 
size, but you 're slimmer now ; but — but I 
hope you won't be mad ef I ask you to put on 
a suit o' mine. It's put' nigh brand-new, an' — " 

" Nelse, I can't do it ! Is this the way you 
pay me for the blows — " 

" Heish your mouth ; ef you don't I '11 slap 
you down ! " Nelse said it with mock solem- 
nity, but there was an ominous quiver about his 
lips. 

" Come in this room, suh ; " and the master 
obeyed. He came out arrayed in Nelse's best 
and newest suit. The coloured man went to a 
drawer, over which he bent laboriously. Then 
he turned and said : " This '11 pay your passage 

200 



NELSE HATTON'S VENGEANCE 

to Kintucky, an' leave somefhin' in your pocket 
besides. Go home, Mas' Tom, — go home ! " 

" Nelse, I can't do it ; this is too much ! " 

" Doggone my cats, ef you don't go on — " 

The white man stood bowed for a moment ; 
then, straightening up, he threw his head back. 
" I '11 take it, Nelse ; but you shall have every 
cent back, even if I have to sell my body to a 
medical college and use a gun to deliver the 
goods ! Good-bye, Nelse, God bless you ! good- 
bye." 

" Good-bye, Mas' Tom, but don't talk that 
way ; go home. The South is changed, an' 
you '11 find somethin' to suit you. Go home 
— go home; an' ef there's any of the folks 
a-livin', give 'em my love, Mas' Tom — give 
'em my love — good-bye — good-bye ! " 

The Negro leaned over the proffered hand, 
and his tears dropped upon it. His master 
passed out, and he sat with his head bowed in 
his hands. 

After a long while Eliza came creeping in. 

" Wha' 'd you do to him, Nelse — wha' 'd you 
do to him ? " There was no answer. " Lawd, 
I hope you ain't killed him," she said, looking 
fearfully around. " I don't see no blood." 

201 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

" I ain't killed him," said Nelse. " I sent 
him home — back to the ol' place." 

" You sent him home ! how 'd you send him, 
huh ? " 

" I give him my Sunday suit and that money 
— don't git mad, 'Lizy, don't git mad — that 
money I was savin' for your cloak. I could n't 
help it, to save my life. He 's goin' back home 
among my people, an' I sent 'em my love. 
Don't git mad an' I '11 git you a cloak anyhow." 

" Pleggone the cloak ! " said Mrs. Hatton, 
suddenly, all the woman in her rising in her 
eyes. " I was so 'fraid you 'd take my advice 
an' do somethin' wrong. Ef you 're happy, 
Nelse, I am too. I don't grudge your master 
nothin' — the ol' devil! But you're jes' a 
good-natured, big-hearted, weak-headed ol' 
fool ! " And she took his head in her arms. 

Great tears rolled down the man's cheeks, 
and he said : " Bless God, 'Lizy, I feel as good 
as a young convert." 



202 



AT SHAFT 11 



203 



AT SHAFT 11 

Night falls early over the miners' huts that 
cluster at the foot of the West Virginia moun- 
tains. The great hills that give the vales their 
shelter also force upon them their shadow. 
Twilight lingers a short time, and then gives 
way to that black darkness which is possible only 
to regions in the vicinity of high and heavily 
wooded hills. 

Through the fast-gathering gloom of a mid- 
spring evening, Jason Andrews, standing in his 
door, peered out into the open. It was a sight 
of rugged beauty that met his eyes as they 
swept the broken horizon. All about the moun- 
tains raised their huge forms, — here bare, sharp, 
and rocky ; there undulating, and covered with 
wood and verdure, whose various shades melted 
into one dull, blurred, dark green, hardly dis- 
tinguishable in the thick twilight. At the foot 
of the hills all was in shadow, but their summits 
were bathed in the golden and crimson glory of 
departing day. 

205 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

Jason Andrews, erstwhile foreman of Shaft n, 
gazed about him with an eye not wholly unap- 
preciative of the beauty of the scene. Then, 
shading his eyes with one brawny hand, an act 
made wholly unnecessary by the absence of the 
sun, he projected his vision far down into the 
valley. 

His hut, set a little way up the mountain-side, 
commanded an extended view of the road, which, 
leaving the slope, ran tortuously through the 
lower land. Evidently something that he saw 
down the road failed to please the miner, for he 
gave a low whistle and re-entered the house with 
a frown on his face. 

" I '11 be goin' down the road a minute, Kate," 
he said to his wife, throwing on his coat and 
pausing at the door. " There 's a crowd gathered 
down toward the settlement. Somethin' 's goin' 
on, an' I want to see what 's up." He slammed 
the door and strode away. 

"Jason, Jason," his wife called after him, 
" don't you have nothin' to do with their goin's- 
on, neither one way nor the other. Do you 
hear ? " 

" Oh, I '11 take care o' myself." The answer 
came back out of the darkness. 

206 



AT SHAFT 11 



cc 



I do wish things would settle down some way 
or other," mused Mrs. Andrews. " I don't see 
why it is men can't behave themselves an' go 
'long about their business, lettin' well enough 
alone. It 's all on account o' that pesky walkin' 
delegate too. I wisht he 'd 'a' kept walkin'. If 
all the rest o' the men had had the common- 
sense that Jason has, he would n't never 'a' took 
no effect on them. But most of 'em must set 
with their mouths open like a lot o' ninnies 
takin' in everything that come their way, and 
now here 's all this trouble on our hands." 

There were indeed troublous times at the little 
mining settlement. The men who made up the 
community were all employees, in one capacity 
or another, of the great Crofton West Virginia 
Mining Co. They had been working on, con- 
tented and happy, at fair wages and on good 
terms with their employers, until the advent 
among them of one who called himself, alter- 
nately, a benefactor of humanity and a labour 
agitator. He proceeded to show the men how 
they were oppressed, how they were withheld 
from due compensation for their labours, while 
the employers rolled in the wealth which the 
workers' hands had produced. With great adroit- 

207 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

ness of argument and elaboration of phrase, he 
contrived to show them that they were altogether 
the most ill-treated men in America. There 
was only one remedy for the misery of their 
condition, and that was to pay him two dollars 
and immediately organise a local branch of the 
Miners' Labour Union. The men listened. He 
was so perfectly plausible, so smooth, and so 
clear. He found converts among them. Some 
few combated the man's ideas, and none among 
these more forcibly than did Jason Andrews, the 
foreman of Shaft 1 1. But the heresy grew, and 
the opposition was soon overwhelmed. There 
are always fifty fools for every fallacy. Of 
course, the thing to do was to organise against 
oppression, and accordingly, amid great enthu- 
siasm, the union was formed. With the excep- 
tion of Jason Andrews, most of the men, cowed 
by the majority opposed to them, yielded their 
ground and joined. But not so he. It was 
sturdy, stubborn old Scotch blood that coursed 
through his veins. He stayed out of the society 
even at the expense of the friendship of some 
of the men who had been his friends. Taunt 
upon taunt was thrown into his face. 

" He 's on the side of the rich. He's for capi- 
208 



AT SHAFT 11 

tal against labour. He 's in favour of support- 
ing a grinding monopoly." All this they said in 
the ready, pat parlance of their class \ but the 
foreman went his way unmoved, and kept his 
own counsel. 

Then, like the falling of a thunderbolt, had 
come the visit of the " walking-delegate " for the 
district, and his command to the men to " go 
out." For a little time the men demurred ; but 
the word of the delegate was law. Some other 
company had failed to pay its employees a proper 
price, and the whole district was to be made an 
example of. Even while the men were asking 
what it was all about, the strike was declared 
on. 

The usual committee, awkward, shambling, 
hat in hand, and uncomfortable in their best 
Sunday clothes, called upon their employers to 
attempt to explain the grievances which had 
brought about the present state of affairs. The 
" walking-delegate " had carefully prepared it all 
for them, with the new schedule of wages based 
upon the company's earnings. 

The three men who had the local affairs of 
the company in charge heard them through 
quietly. Then young Harold Crofton, acting as 
14 209 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

spokesman, said, "Will you tell us how long 
since you discovered that your wages were 
unfair ? " 

The committee severally fumbled its hat and 
looked confused. Finally Grierson, who had 
been speaking for them, said : u Well, we 've been 
thinkin' about it fur a good while. Especially 
ever sence, ahem — " 

u Yes," went on Crofton, " to be plain and 
more definite, ever since the appearance among 
you of Mr. Tom Daly, the agitator, the destroyer 
of confidence between employer and employed, 
the weasel who sucks your blood and tells you 
that he is doing you a service. You have dis- 
covered the unfairness of your compensation 
since making his acquaintance." 

" Well, I guess he told us the truth," growled 
Grierson. 

" That is a matter of opinion." 
" But look what you all are earnin'." 
" That 's what we 're in the business for. We 
have n't left comfortable homes in the cities to 
come down to this hole in the mountains for our 
health. We have a right to earn. We brought 
capital, enterprise, and energy here. We give 
you work and pay you decent wages. It is none 

2 IO 



AT SHAFT 11 

of your business what we earn." The young 
man's voice rose a little, and a light came into 
his calm gray eyes. " Have you not been com- 
fortable ? Have you not lived well and been 
able to save something ? Have you not been 
treated like men ? What more do you want ? 
What real grievance have you? None. A 
scoundrel and a sneak has come here, and for 
his own purposes aroused your covetousness. 
But it is unavailing, and," turning to his col- 
leagues, u these gentlemen will bear me out in 
what I say, — we will not raise your wages one- 
tenth of one penny above what they are. We 
will not be made to suffer for the laxity of other 
owners, and if within three hours the men are 
not back at work, they may consider themselves 
discharged." His voice was cold, clear, and 
ringing. 

Surprised, disappointed, and abashed, the com- 
mittee heard the ultimatum, and then shuffled 
out of the office in embarrassed silence. It was 
all so different from what they had expected. 
They thought that they had only to demand 
and their employers would accede rather than 
have the work stop. Labour had but to make a 
show of resistance and capital would yield. So 

211 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

they had been told. But here they were, the 
chosen representatives of labour, skulking away 
from the presence of capital like felons detected. 
Truly this was a change. Embarrassment gave 
way to anger, and the miners who waited the 
report of their committee received a highly 
coloured account of the stand-offish way in which 
they had been met. If there had been anything 
lacking to inflame the rising feelings of the 
labourers, this new evidence of the arrogance of 
plutocrats supplied it, and with one voice the 
strike was confirmed. 

Soon after the three hours' grace had passed, 
Jason Andrews received a summons to the com- 
pany's office. 

" Andrews," said young Crofton, " we have 
noticed your conduct with gratitude since this 
trouble has been brewing. The other foremen 
have joined the strikers and gone out. We 
know where you stand and thank you for your 
kindness. But we don't want it to end with 
thanks. It is well to give the men a lesson and 
bring them to their senses, but the just must not 
suffer with the unjust. In less than two days the 
mine will be manned by Negroes with their own 
foreman. We wish to offer you a place in the 

212 



AT SHAFT 11 

office here at the same wages you got in the 
mine." 

The foreman raised his hand in a gesture of 
protest. " No, no, Mr. Crofton. That would 
look like I was profiting by the folly of the men. 
I can't do it. I am not in their union, but I 
will take my chances as they take theirs." 

" That 's foolish, Andrews. You don't know 
how long this thing may last." 

" Well, I 've got a snug bit laid by, and if 
things don't brighten in time, why, I '11 go 
somewhere else." 

" We 'd be sorry to lose you, but I want you 
to do as you think best. -This change may 
cause trouble, and if it does, we shall hope for 
your aid." 

" I am with you as long as you are in the 
right." 

The miner gave the young man's hand a 
hearty grip and passed out. 

" Steel," said Crofton the younger. 

"Gold," replied his partner. 

" Well, as true as one and as good as the 
other, and we are both right." 

As the young manager had said, so matters 
turned out. Within two days several car-loads 

213 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

of Negroes came in and began to build their 
huts. With the true racial instinct of colonisa- 
tion, they all flocked to one part of the settle- 
ment. With a wisdom that was not entirely 
instinctive, though it may have had its origin in 
the Negro's social inclination, they built one large 
eating-room a little way from their cabin and 
up the mountain-side. The back of the place 
was the bare wall of a sheer cliff". Here their 
breakfasts and suppers were to be taken, the 
midday meal being eaten in the mine. 

The Negro who held Jason Andrews' place as 
foreman of Shaft n, the best yielding of all the 
mines, and the man who seemed to be the 
acknowledged leader of all the blacks, was known 
as big Sam Bowles. He was a great black fel- 
low, with a hand like a sledge-hammer, but with 
an open, kindly face and a voice as musical as 
a lute. 

On the first morning that they went in a 
body to work in the mines, they were assailed 
by the jeers and curses of the strikers, while 
now and then a rock from the hand of some 
ambushed foe fell among them. But they did 
not heed these things, for they were expected. 

For several days nothing more serious than 
214 



AT SHAFT 11 

this happened, but ominous mutterings foretold 
the coming storm. So matters stood on the 
night that Jason Andrews left his cabin to find 
out what was " up." 

He went on down the road until he reached 
the outskirts of the crowd, which he saw to be 
gathered about a man who was haranguing 
them. The speaker proved to be " Red " 
Cleary, one of Daly's first and most ardent 
converts. He had worked the men up to a 
high pitch of excitement, and there were cries 
of, " Go it, Red, you 're on the right track ! " 
" What 's the matter with Cleary ? He 's all 
right ! " and, " Run the niggers out. That 's 
it ! " On the edge of the throng, half in the 
shadow, Jason Andrews listened in silence, and 
his just anger grew. 

The speaker was saying, " What are we 
white men goin' to do ? Set still an' let niggers 
steal the bread out of our mouths ? Ain't it 
our duty to rise up like free Americans an' drive 
'em from the place ? Who dares say no to 
that ? ' : Cleary made the usual pause for dra- 
matic effect and to let the incontrovertibility of 
his argument sink into the minds of his hearers. 
The pause was fatal. A voice broke the still- 

2I 5 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

ness that followed his question, "I do ! " and 
Andrews pushed his way through the crowd to 
the front. " There ain't anybody stealin' the 
bread out of our mouths, niggers ner nobody 
else. If men throw away their bread, why, a 
dog has the right to pick it up." 

There were dissenting murmurs, and Cleary 
turned to his opponent with a sneer. " Humph, 
I 'd be bound for you, Jason Andrews, first on 
the side of the bosses and then takin' up for the 
niggers. Boys, I '11 bet he 's a Republican ! " 
A laugh greeted this sally. The red mounted 
into the foreman's face and made his tan seem 
darker. 

" I 'm as good a Democrat as any of you," 
he said, looking around, " and you say that 
again, Red Cleary, and I '11 push the words 
down your throat with my fist." 

Cleary knew his man and turned the matter 
off. " We don't care nothin' about what party 
you vote with. We intend to stand up for our 
rights. Mebbe you 've got something to say 
ag'in that." 

" I 've got something to say, but not against 
any man's rights. There 's men here that have 
known me and are honest, and they will say 

216 



AT SHAFT 11 

whether I Ve acted on the square or not since 
I 've been among you. But there is right as 
well as rights. As for the niggers, I ain't any 
friendlier to 'em than the rest of you. But I 
ain't the man to throw up a job and then howl 
when somebody else gets it. If we don't want 
our hoe-cake, there 's others that do." 

The plain sense of Andrews' remarks calmed 
the men, and Cleary, seeing that his power was 
gone, moved away from the centre of the crowd, 
" I '11 settle with you later," he muttered, as he 
passed Jason. 

" There ain't any better time than now," re- 
plied the latter, seizing his arm and drawing him 
back. 

" Here, here, don't fight," cried some one. 
" Go on, Cleary, there may be something better 
than a fellow- work man to try your muscle on 
before long." The crowd came closer and 
pushed between the two men. With many 
signs of reluctance, but willingly withal, Cleary 
allowed himself to be hustled away. The 
crowd dispersed, but Jason Andrews knew that 
he had only temporarily quieted the turmoil in 
the breasts of the men. It would break out very 
soon again, he told himself. Musing thus, he 

217 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

took his homeward way. As he reached the 
open road on the rise that led to his cabin, he 
heard the report of a pistol, and a shot clipped a 
rock three or four paces in front of him. 

" With the compliments of Red Cleary," 
said Jason, with a hard laugh. ct The coward ! " 

All next day, an ominous calm brooded over 
the little mining settlement. The black work- 
men went to their labours unmolested, and the 
hope that their hardships were over sprang up 
in the hearts of some. But there were two 
men who, without being informed, knew better. 
These were Jason Andrews and big Sam, and 
chance threw the two together. It was as the 
black was returning alone from the mine after 
the day's work was over. 

" The strikers did n't bother you any to-day, 
I noticed," said Andrews. 

Sam Bowles looked at him with suspicion, 
and then, being reassured by the honest face 
and friendly manner, he replied : " No, not 
to-day, but there ain't no tellin' what they '11 
do to-night. I don't like no sich sudden 
change." 

" You think something is brewing, eh ? " 

" It looks mighty like it, I tell you." 
218 



AT SHAFT 11 

cc Well, I believe that you 're right, and you '11 
do well to keep a sharp lookout all night." 

" I, for one, won't sleep," said the Negro. 

" Can you shoot ? " asked Jason. 

The Negro chuckled, and, taking a revolver 
from the bosom of his blouse, aimed at the top 
of a pine-tree which had been grazed by light- 
ning, and showed white through the fading light 
nearly a hundred yards away. There was a 
crack, and the small white space no larger than 
a man's hand was splintered by the bullet. 

" Well, there ain't no doubt that you can 
shoot, and you may have to bring that gun of 
yours into action before you expect. In a case 
like this it 's your enemy's life against yours." 

Andrews kept on his way, and the Negro 
turned up to the large supper-room. Most of 
them were already there and at the meal. 

"Well, boys," began big Sam, " you 'd just 
as well get it out of your heads that our trouble 
is over here. It 's jest like I told you. I 've 
been talkin' to the fellow that used to have my 
place, — he ain't in with the rest of the strikers, 
— an' he thinks that they 're goin' to try an' 
run us out to-night. I 'd advise you, as soon as 
it gets dark-like, to take what things you want 

219 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

out o' yore cabins an' bring 'em up here. It 
won't do no harm to be careful until we find 
out what kind of a move they 're goin' to 
make." 

The men had stopped eating, and they stared 
at the speaker with open mouths. There were 
some incredulous eyes among the gazers, too. 

" I don't believe they 'd dare come right out 
an' do anything," said one. 

" Stay in yore cabin, then," retorted the 
leader angrily. 

There was no more demur, and as soon as 
night had fallen, the Negroes did as they were 
bidden, though the rude, ill-furnished huts con- 
tained little or nothing of value. Another 
precaution taken by the blacks was to leave 
short candles burning in their dwellings so as 
to give the impression of occupancy. If noth- 
ing occurred during the night, the lights would 
go out of themselves and the enemy would be 
none the wiser as to their vigilance. 

In the large assembly room the men waited 
in silence, some drowsing and some smoking. 
Only one candle threw its dim circle of light in 
the centre of the room, throwing the remainder 
into denser shadow. The flame flickered and 

220 



AT SHAFT 11 

guttered. Its wavering faintness brought out the 
dark strained faces in fantastic relief, and gave 
a weirdness to the rolling white eyeballs and 
expanded eyes. Two hours passed. Suddenly, 
from the window where big Sam and a colleague 
were stationed, came a warning u S-sh ! " Sam 
had heard stealthy steps in the direction of 
the nearest cabin. The night was so black 
that he could see nothing, but he felt that 
developments were about to begin. He 
could hear more steps. Then the men heard a 
cry of triumph as the strikers threw themselves 
against the cabin doors, which yielded easily. 
This was succeeded from all parts by ex- 
clamations of rage and disappointment. In the 
assembly room the Negroes were chuckling to 
themselves. Mr. " Red " Geary had planned 
well, but so had Sam Bowles. 

After the second cry there was a pause, as 
if the men had drawn together for consultation. 
Then some one approached the citadel a little 
way and said : " If you niggers '11 promise to 
leave here to-morrow morning at daylight, we '11 
let you off this time. If you don't, there won't 
be any of you to leave to-morrow." 

Some of the blacks were for promising, but 

221 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

their leader turned on them like a tiger. "You 
would promise, would you, and then give them 
a chance to whip you out of the section ! Go, 
all of you that want to; but as for me, I'll stay 
here an' fight it out with the blackguards." 

The man who had spoken from without had 
evidently waited for an answer. None coming, 
his footsteps were heard retreating, and then, 
without warning, there was a rattling fusillade. 
Some of the shots crashed through the thin pine 
boarding, and several men were grazed. One 
struck the man who stood at big Sam's side at 
the window. The blood splashed into the 
black leader's face, and his companion sunk to 
the floor with a groan. Sam Bowles moved 
from the window a moment and wiped the 
blood drops from his cheek. He looked down 
upon the dead man as if the deed had dazed 
him. Then, with a few sharp commands, he 
turned again to the window. 

Some over-zealous fool among the strikers 
had fired one of the huts, and the growing flames 
discovered their foes to the little garrison. 

" Put out that light," ordered big Sam. " All 
of you that can, get to the two front windows — 
you, Toliver, an' you, Moten, here with me. 

222 



AT SHAFT 11 

All the rest of you lay fiat on the floor. Nov/, 
as soon as that light gets bright, pick out yore 
man, — don't waste a shot, now — fire ! " Six 
pistols spat fire out into the night. There were 
cries of pain and the noise of scurrying feet as 
the strikers fled pell-mell out of range. 

u Now, down on the floor ! " commanded 
Sam. 

The order came not a moment too soon, for 
an answering volley of shots penetrated the walls 
and passed harmlessly over the heads of those 
within. Meanwhile, some one seeing the mis- 
take of the burning cabin had ordered it extin- 
guished ; but this could not be done without the 
workmen being exposed to the fire from the 
blacks' citadel. So there was nothing to do 
save to wait until the shanty had burned down. 
The dry pine was flaming brightly now, and lit 
up the scene with a crimson glare. The great 
rocks and the rugged mountain-side, with patches 
of light here and there contrasting with the 
deeper shadows, loomed up threatening and 
terrible, and the fact that behind those boulders 
lay armed men thirsty for blood made the scene 
no less horrible. 

In his cabin, farther up the mountain side, 
223 



u 

U 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

Jason Andrews had heard the shouts and firing, 
seen the glare of the burning cabin through his 
window, and interpreted it aright. He rose and 
threw on his coat. 

" Jason," said his wife, " don't go down there. 
It 's none of your business." 

I 'm not going down there, Kate," he said ; 

but I know my duty and have got to do it." 

The nearest telegraph office was a mile away 
from his cabin. Thither Jason hurried. He 
entered, and, seizing a blank, began to write 
rapidly, when he was interrupted by the voice of 
the operator, " It 's no use, Andrews, the wires 
are cut." The foreman stopped as if he had 
been struck ; then, wheeling around, he started 
for the door just as Crofton came rushing in. 

u Ah, Andrews, it 's you, is it ? — and before 
me. Have you telegraphed for troops ? " 

" It 's no use, Mr. Crofton, the wires are cut." 

" My God ! " exclaimed the young man, 
" what is to be done ? I did not think they 
would go to this length." 

" We must reach the next station and wire 
from there." 

" But it 's fifteen miles away on a road where 
a man is liable to break his neck at any minute." 

224 



AT SHAFT 11 

" I '11 risk it, but I must have a horse." 

"Take mine. He's at the door, — God 
speed you." With the word, Jason was in the 
saddle and away like the wind. 

" He can't keep that pace on the bad 
ground," said young Crofton, as he turned 
homeward. 

At the centre of strife all was still quiet. The 
fire had burned low, and what remained of it 
cast only a dull light around. The assailants 
began to prepare again for action. 

" Here, some one take my place at the win- 
dow," said Sam. He left his post, crept to the 
door and opened it stealthily, and, dropping on 
his hands and knees, crawled out into the dark- 
ness. In less than five minutes he was back 
and had resumed his station. His face was 
expressionless. No one knew what he had done 
until a new flame shot athwart the darkness, and 
at sight of it the strikers burst into a roar of rage. 
Another cabin was burning, and the space about 
for a hundred yards was as bright as day. In 
the added light, two or three bodies were dis- 
tinguishable upon the ground, showing that the 
shots of the blacks had told. With deep chagrin 
the strikers saw that they could do nothing while 
15 225 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

the light lasted. It was now nearly midnight, 
and the men were tired and cramped in their 
places. They dared not move about much, for 
every appearance of an arm or a leg brought a 
shot from the besieged. Oh for the darkness, 
that they might advance and storm the strong- 
hold ! Then they could either overpower the 
blacks by force of numbers, or set fire to the 
place that held them and shoot them down as 
they tried to escape. Oh for darkness ! 

As if the Powers above were conspiring against 
the unfortunates, the clouds, which had been 
gathering dark and heavy, now loosed a down- 
pour of rain which grew fiercer and fiercer as 
the thunder crashed down from the mountains 
echoing and re-echoing back and forth in the 
valley. The lightning tore vivid, zigzag gashes 
in the inky sky. The fury of the storm burst 
suddenly, and before the blacks could realise 
what was happening, the torrent had beaten 
the fire down, and the way between them and 
their enemies lay in darkness. The strikers gave 
a cheer that rose even over the thunder. 

As the young manager had said, the road over 
which Jason had to travel was a terrible one. 

226 



AT SHAFT 11 

It was rough, uneven, and treacherous to the step 
even in the light of day. But the brave man 
urged his horse on at the best possible speed. 
When he was half-way to his destination, a sud- 
den drop in the road threw the horse and he 
went over the animal's head. He felt a sharp 
pain in his arm, and he turned sick and dizzy, 
but, scrambling to his feet, he mounted, seized 
the reins in one hand, and was away again. It 
was half-past twelve when he staggered into the 
telegraph office. " Wire — quick ! " he gasped. 
The operator who had been awakened from a 
nap by the clatter of the horse's hoofs, rubbed 
his eyes and seized a pencil and blank. 

u Troops at once - — for God's sake — troops 
at once — Crofton's mine riot — murder being 
done ! " and then, his mission being over, nature 
refused longer to resist the strain and Jason 
Andrews swooned. 

His telegram had been received at Wheeling, 
and another ordering the instant despatch of the 
nearest militia, who had been commanded to 
sleep in their armories in anticipation of some 
such trouble, before a physician had been 
secured for Andrews. His arm was set and he 
was put to bed. But, loaded on flat-cars and 

227 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

whatever else came handy, the troops were on 
their way to the scene of action. 

While this was going on, the Negroes had 
grown disheartened. The light which had dis- 
closed to them their enemy had been extin- 
guished, and under cover of the darkness and 
storm they knew their assailants would again 
advance. Every flash of lightning showed them 
the men standing boldly out from their shelter. 

Big Sam turned to his comrades. " Never say 
die, boys," he said. " We 've got jest one more 
chance to scatter 'em. If we can't do it, it 's 
hand to hand with twice our number. Some of 
you lay down on the floor here with your faces 
jest as clost to the door as you can. Now some 
more of you kneel jest above. Now above them 
some of you bend, while the rest stand up. 
Pack that door full of gun muzzles while I watch 
things outside." The men did as he directed, and 
he was silent for a while. Then he spoke again 
softly: "Now they 're comin'. When I say 
' Ready ! ' open the door, and as soon as a flash of 
lightning shows you where they are, let them 
have it." 

They waited breathlessly. 

" Now, ready ! " 

228 



AT SHAFT 11 

The door was opened, and a moment there- 
after the glare of the lightning was followed by 
another flash from the doorway. Groans, shrieks, 
and curses rang out as the assailants scampered 
helter-skelter back to their friendly rocks, leaving 
more of their dead upon the ground behind them. 

" That was it," said Sam. " That will keep 
them in check for a while. If we can hold 'em 
off until daybreak, we are safe." 

The strikers were now angry and sore and 
wet through. Some of them were wounded. 
" Red " Cleary himself had a bullet through his 
shoulder. But his spirits were not daunted, al- 
though six of his men lay dead upon the ground. 
A long consultation followed the last unsuccess- 
ful assault. At last Cleary said : " Well, it 
won't do any good to stand here talkin'. It 's 
gettin' late, an' if we don't drive 'em out to-night, 
it 's all up with us an' we 'd jest as well be lookin' 
out fur other diggin's. We 've got to crawl up 
as near as we can an' then rush 'em. It 's the 
only way, an' what we ought to done at first. 
Get down on your knees. Never mind the 
mud — better have it under you than over you." 
The men sank down, and went creeping forward 
like a swarm of great ponderous vermin. They 

229 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

had not gone ten paces when some one said, 
" Tsch ! what is that ? " They stopped where 
they were. A sound came to their ears. It 
was the laboured puffing of a locomotive as it 
tugged up the incline that led to the settlement. 
Then it stopped. Within the room they had 
heard it, too, and there was as great suspense 
as without. 

With his ear close to the ground, " Red " 
Cleary heard the tramp of marching men, and 
he shook with fear. His fright was communi- 
cated to the others, and with one accord they 
began creeping back to their hiding-places. 
Then, with a note that v*as like the voice of 
God to the besieged, through the thunder and 
rain, a fife took up the strains of " Yankee 
Doodle " accompanied by the tum-tum of a 
sodden drum. This time a cheer went up from 
within the room, — a cheer that directed the 
steps of the oncoming militia. 

" It 's all up ! " cried Cleary, and, emptying 
his pistol at the wood fort, he turned and fled. 
His comrades followed suit. A bullet pierced 
Sam Bowles's wrist. But he did not mind it. 
He was delirious with joy. The militia ad- 
vanced and the siege was lifted. Out into the 

230 



AT SHAFT 11 

storm rushed the happy blacks to welcome and 
help quarter their saviours. Some of the Negroes 
were wounded, and one dead, killed at the first 
fire. Tired as the men were, they could not 
sleep, and morning found them still about their 
fires talking over the night's events. It found 
also many of the strikers missing besides those 
who lay stark on the hillside. 

For the next few days the militia took charge 
of affairs. Some of the strikers availed them- 
selves of the Croftons' clemency, and went back 
to work along with the blacks ; others moved 
away. 

When Jason Andrews was well enough to be 
moved, he came back. The Croftons had al- 
ready told of his heroism, and he was the admi- 
ration of white and black alike. He has general 
charge now of all the Crofton mines, and his 
assistant and stanch friend is big Sam. 



231 



THE DELIBERATION 

OF MR. DUNKIN 



233 



THE DELIBERATION OF 

MR. DUNKIN 

Miltonville had just risen to the dignity of 
being a school town. Now, to the uninitiated 
and unconcerned reader this may appear to be 
the most unimportant statement in the world ; 
but one who knows Miltonville, and realises all 
the facts in the case, will see that the simple 
remark is really fraught with mighty import. 

When for two years a growing village has had 
to crush its municipal pride and send its knowl- 
edge-seeking youth to a rival town two miles 
away, when that rival has boasted and vaunted 
its superiority, when a listless school-board has 
been unsuccessfully prodded, month after month, 
then the final decision in favour of the institution 
and the renting of a room in which to establish it 
is no small matter. And now Fox Run, with its 
most plebeian name but arrogantly aristocratic 
community, could no longer look down upon 
Miltonville. 

235 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

The coloured population of this town was 
sufficiently large and influential to merit their 
having a member on the school-board. But Mr. 
Dunkin, the incumbent, had found no employ- 
ment for his energies until within the last two 
months, when he had suddenly entered the school 
fight with unwonted zest. Now it was an assured 
thing, and on Monday Miss Callena Johnson was 
to start the fountain of knowledge a-going. This 
in itself was enough to set the community in a 
commotion. 

Much had been heard of Miss Callena before 
she had been selected as the guiding genius of the 
new venture. She had even visited Fox Run, 
which prided itself greatly on the event. Flat- 
tering rumours were afloat in regard to her beauty 
and brilliancy. She was from Lexington. What 
further recommendation as to her personal 
charms did she need ? She was to come in on 
Saturday evening, and as the railroad had not 
deigned to come nearer to Miltonville than Fox 
Run station, — another thorn in the side of the 
Miltonvillians, — Mr. Dunkin, as the important 
official in the affair, was delegated to go and 
bring the fair one into her kingdom. 

Now, Mr. Dunkin was a man of deliberation. 
236 



DELIBERATION OF MR. DUNKIN 

He prided himself upon that. He did nothing 
in a hurry. Nothing came from him without 
due forethought. So, in this case, before going 
for Miss Callena, he visited Mr. Alonzo Taft. 
Who was Mr. Taft ? Of course you have 
never been to Miltonville or you would never 
have asked that question. Mr. Alonzo Taft 
was valet to Major Richardson, who lived in the 
great house on the hill overlooking the town. 
He not only held this distinguished position in 
that aristocratic household, but he was the black 
beau ideal and social mentor for all the town. 

Him, then, did Mr. Dunkin seek, and deliv- 
ered himself as follows : " Mistah Tat', you 
reco'nise de dooty dat is laid upon me by bein' 
a membah of de school-boa'd. I has got to go 
to de depot aftah Miss Callena Johnson to- 
morrow aftahnoon. Now, Mistah TaP, I is a 
delibut man myse'f. I is mighty keerful what I 
does an' how I does it. As you know, I ain't 
no man fu' society, an' conserkently I is not 
convusant wid some of de manipulations of 
comp'ny. So I t'ought I 'd come an' ax yo' 
advice about sev'al t'ings, — what to waih, an' 
which side o' de wagon to have Miss Callena 
on, an' how to he'p huh in, an' so fofe." 

237 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

" Why, of co'se, Mr. Dunkin," said the 
elegant Alonzo, " I shell be happy to adminis- 
tah any instructions to you dat lies within my 
powah." 

Mr. Taft was a perfect second edition of 
Major Richardson bound in black hide. 

u But," he went on in a tone of dignified 
banter, " we shell have to keep a eye on you 
prosp'ous bachelors. You may be castin' sheep- 
eyes at Miss Callena." 

" Dat 'u'd be mo' nachul an' fittener in a 
young man lak you," said Mr. Dunkin, delib- 
erately. 

" Oh, I has been located in my affections too 
long to lif anchor now." 

" You don' say," said the " prosp'ous bache- 
lor," casting a quick glance at the speaker. 

" Yes, indeed, suh." 

So they chatted on, and in the course of time 
the deliberate Dunkin got such information as 
he wished, and departed in the happy conscious- 
ness that on the morrow he should do the proper 
and only the proper thing. 

After he was gone, Alonzo Taft rubbed his 
chin and mused : " I wonder what ol' man 
Dunkin 's got in his head. Dey say he 's too 

238 



DELIBERATION OF MR. DUNKIN 

slow an' thinks too long evah to git married. 
But you watch dem thinkin' people when dey 
do make up deir minds." 

On the morrow, when Mr. Dunkin went 
forth, he outshone Solomon in all his glory. 
When he came back, the eyes of all the town 
saw Miss Callena Johnson, beribboned and 
smiling, sitting on his right and chatting away 
vivaciously. As to her looks, the half had not 
been told. As to her manners, those smiles and 
head-tossings gave promise of unheard-of graces, 
and the hearts of all Miltonville throbbed as one. 

Alonzo Taft was lounging carelessly on the 
corner as the teacher and her escort passed 
along. He raised his hat to them with that 
sweeping, graceful gesture which was known to 
but two men in that vicinity, himself and Major 
Richardson. After some hesitation as to which 
hand should retain the reins, Mr. Dunkin re- 
turned the salute. 

The next day being Sunday, and universal 
calling-day in Miltonville, Eli Thompson's 
house, where Miss Callena had taken up her 
abode, was filled with guests. All the beaux in 
town were there, resplendent in their Sunday 
best. Many a damsel sat alone that afternoon 

2 39 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

whose front room no Sunday before had seen 
untenanted. Mr. Taft was there, and also one 
who came early and stayed late, — Mr. Dunkin. 
The younger men thought that he was rather 
overplaying his role of school trustee. He was 
entirely too conscientious as to his duty to 
Miss Callena. What the young beaux wanted 
to know was whether it was entirely in his official 
position that he sat so long with Miss Callena 
that first Sabbath. 

On Monday morning the school opened with 
great eclat. There were exercises. The trustee 
was called upon to make a speech, and, as speech- 
making is the birthright of his race, acquitted 
himself with credit. The teacher was seen to 
smile at him as he sat down. 

Now, under ordinary circumstances a smile 
is a small thing. It is given, taken, and for- 
gotten all in a moment. At other times it is 
the keynote to the tragedy or comedy of a life. 
Miss Callena's smile was like an electric spark 
setting fire to a whole train of combustibles. 
Those who saw it marvelled and told their 
neighbours, and their neighbours asked them what 
it meant. Before night, that smile and all the 
import it might carry was the town's talk. 

240 



DELIBERATION OF MR. DUNKIN 

Alonzo Taft had seen it. Unlike the others, 
he said nothing to his neighbours. He questioned 
himself only. To him that smile meant famil- 
iarity, good-fellowship, and a thorough mutual 
understanding. He looked into the dark, danc- 
ing eyes of Miss Callena, and in spite of his 
statement of a few days ago that he had 
been located too long to " HP anchor," he felt 
a pang at his heart that was like the first stab 
of jealousy. So he was deeply interested that 
evening when Maria, his fellow-servant, told 
him that Mr. Dunkin was waiting to see him. 
He hurried through with his work, even leaving 
a speck of lint on the major's coat, — an un- 
precedented thing, — and hastened down to his 
guest. 

A look of great seriousness and determination 
was fixed upon the features of the "prosp'ous 
bachelor " as his host made his appearance and 
invited him up to his room. 

Mr. Dunkin was well seated and had his pipe 
going before he began: " Mistah TaP, I alius 
has 'lowed dat you was a sensible young man 
an' a pu'son of mo' dan o'dina'y intel'gence." 

" You flattah me, Mistah Dunkin, you flattah 
me, suh." 



16 



241 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

"Now I's a man, Mistah Taf ', dat don't 
do nuffin' in a hu'y. I don' mek up my min' 
quick 'bout myse'f ner 'bout othah people. But 
when my min' is made up, it 's made up. Now 
I come up hyeah to cornfide in you 'bout some- 
p'n'. I was mighty glad to hyeah you say de 
othah day dat yo' 'fections was done sot an' 
located, because hit meks me free to talk to you 
'bout a mattah, seein' dat hit 's a mattah of my 
own 'fections." 

" This is ve'y int'rustin', Mistah Dunkin ; go 
on. 

" I 's a-cornfidin' in you because you is a 
young man of presentment an' knows jes' how 
to pu'sue a co'se of cou'tin'. I unnerstan' dat 
you is ingaged to Miss Marfy Madison." 

Mr. Taft smiled with a sudden accession of 
modesty, either real or assumed. 

" Now, I ain't nevah had no experunce in 
cou'tin' ladies, because I nevah 'spected to ma'y. 
But hit 's nachul dat a man should change his 
min', Mistah Taf, 'specially 'bout sich a mattah 
as matermony." 

" Nothin' mo' nachul in de world." 

" So, when I seed dat it was pos'ble to bring 
sich a young lady as I hyeahed Miss Callena 

242 



DELIBERATION OF MR. DUNKIN 

Johnson was, to Miltonville, by jes' havin' a 
school, I wo'ks to have de school." 

" Oh, dat 's de reason you commence to tek 
sich a int'rus', huh ! " The expression slipped 
from Alonzo's lips. 

" Don' narrow me down, Mistah Taf ', don' 
narrow me down ! Dat was one o' de rea- 
sons. Howsomevah, we has de school an' 
Miss Callena is hyeah. So fa' my wo'k is 
good. But I 'low dat no man dat ain't ex- 
perunced in cou'tin' ort to tek de 'sponsibility 
alone." 

" Of co'se not ! " said Alonzo. 

" So I t'ought I 'd ax you to he'p me by 
drappin' roun' to Miss Callena's 'casionally an' 
puttin' in a word fu' me. I unnerstan' dat 
women-folks laks to hyeah 'bout de man dat 's 
cou'tin' dem, f'om de outside. Now, you kin 
be of gret suhvice to me, an' you won't lose 
nothin' by it. Jes' manage to let Miss Callena 
know 'bout my propity, an' 'bout my hogs an' 
my hosses an' my chickens, an' dat I 's buyin' 
mo' Ian'. Drap it kind o' delikit lak. Don' 
mention my name too often. Will you he'p 
me out dat-away ? " 

" W'y, co'se I will, Mr. Dunkin. It '11 gi' 

243 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

me gret pleasuah to he'p you in dis way, an' I '11 
be jes' as delikit as anybody kin." 

" Dat 's right ; dat 's right." 

" I won't mention yo' name too much." 

" Dat 's right." 

"I '11 jes' hint an' hint an' hint." 

" Dat 's right. You jes' got it right ezactly, 
an' you sha'n't lose nothin' by it, I tell you." 

The " prosp'ous bachelor " rose in great ela- 
tion, and shook Mr. Taft's hand vigorously as he 
departed. 

" Miss Marfy, Miss Callena : Miss Callena, 
Miss Marfy," repeated Mr. Taft, as he stood 
musing after his visitor had gone. 

It may have been zeal in the cause of his 
good friend, or it may have been some very 
natural desire for appreciation of his own merits, 
that prompted Alonzo Taft to dress with such 
extreme care for his visit to Miss Callena 
Johnson on the next night. He did explain 
his haste to make the call by telling him- 
self that if he was going to do anything for 
Mr. Dunkin he had better be about it. But 
this anxiety on his protege's account did not 
explain why he put on his fawn-coloured waist- 
coat, which he had never once worn when visit- 

244 



DELIBERATION OF MR. DUNKIN 

ing Miss Martha, nor why he needed to be so 
extraordinarily long in tying his bow tie. His 
beaver was rubbed and caressed until it shone 
again. Major Richardson himself had not 
looked better in that blue Prince Albert coat, 
when it was a year newer. Thus arrayed, 
stepping manfully and twirling a tiny cane, 
did the redoubtable Mr. Taft set out for the 
conquest of Miss Cailena Johnson. It is just 
possible that it was Alonzo's absorption in his 
own magnificence that made him forgetfully 
walk down the very street on which Miss 
Martha Madison's cottage was situated. Miss 
Martha was at the gate. He looked up and 
saw her, but too late to retreat. 

" La ! Mistah Taf '," said Miss Martha, smil- 
ing as she opened the gate for him. "I wasn't 
expectin' you dis evenin'. Walk right in." 

"I — I — I — thank you, Miss Marfy, thank 
you," replied the dark beau, a bit confused but 
stepping through the gateway. " It 's a mighty 
fine evenin' we're havin'." 

" I don't wunner you taken yo'se'f out fu' a 
walk. I was thinkin' 'bout goin' out myse'f 
ontwell I seen you comin' along. You mus' 
'a' been mighty tuk up wif de weathah, 'cause 

245 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

you hahdly knowed when you got to de gate. I 
thought you was a-goin' to pass on by." 

" Oh, I could n't pass dis gate. I 'm so used 
to comin' hyeah dat I reckon my feet 'u'd jes' 
tu'n up de walk of dey own accord." 

" Dey did n't tu'n up dat walk much Sun- 
day. Whaih was you all day aftah mo'nin' 
chu'ch ? I 'spected you up in de aft'noon." 

"I — I — would 'a' been " — Mr. Taft was 
beginning to writhe upon his chair — " but I 
had to go out to mek some calls." 

"Oh, yes" retorted Miss Martha, good-na- 
turedly, " I reckon you was one o' dem gent'mans 
dat was settin' up at de schoolteachah's house." 

" I fu' one was callin' on Miss Callena. Hit 's 
only propah when a strange lady come to town 
fu' de gent'men to call an' pay deir 'spects." 

" I reckon hit ain't propah fu' de gent'mans 
to tek none o' de ladies to call." 

" I ain't 'scussin' dat," said Mr. Taft, with 
some acerbity. 

" Of co'se you ain't. Well, hit ain't none 
o' my bus'ness, to be sho. I ain't thinkin' 
nothin' 'bout myse'f or none o' de things you 
been sayin' to me. But all I got to say 
is, you bettah leave Miss Callena, as you call 

246 



DELIBERATION OF MR. DUNKIN 

huh, alone, 'cause evahbody say ol' man Dunkin 
got his eyes sot on huh, an' he gwine to win. 
Dey do say, too, dat he outsot you all, Sunday." 

Nothing could have hurt Alonzo Taft's pride 
more than this, or more thoroughly aroused his 
dignity. 

" Ef I wanted Miss Callena Johnson," he said, 
" I would n't stan' back fu' nobody like ol' man 
Dunkin." 

" I reckon you would n't, but you might set 
in an' git jes' nachully sot back ;" and Martha 
laughed maliciously. 

" I ain't boastin' 'bout what I could do ef I 
had a min' to, but I 'low ef I wan'ed to set my 
cap fu' any young lady, I would n't be feared o' 
no ol' man dat don't know nothin' but hogs an' 
chickens." 

" Nevah min' ! Dem hogs an' chickens 
fetches money, an' dat's what yo' fine city ladies 
wants, an' don't you fu'git it." 

" Money ain't a-gwine to mek no ol' man 
young." 

" De ol' man wa'n't too ol' to outset you 
all young men anyhow." 

" Dey 's somep'n' mo' to cou'tin' 'sides 



settin'." 



247 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

" Yes, but a long set an' a long pocket is 
mighty big evidence." 

" I don't keer ef it is. Wha — what 's de use 
of argyin'? I do' want Miss Callena nohow — 
I do' want huh." 

" You stahted de argyment ; I did n't staht it. 
You ain 't goin', is you ? " 

" I got to go," said Alonzo, with his hand on 
the door-knob ; " I done ovahstayed my time now." 

" Whaih you gwine to ? " 

"I — I — oh, I 'm goin' down de street. 
Don' ax whaih I 'm a-goin' to, Miss Marfy ; it 
ain't good raisin'." 

" I unnerstan' you, 'Lonzo Taf \ I unner- 
stood you when you fus' come in, all rigged out 
in yo' fines' clothes. You did 'n' 'low to stop 
hyeah nohow. You gwine down to see dat 
teachah, dat 's whaih you gwine." 

" Well, s'posin' I am, s'posin' I am ? " 

" Well, s'posin' you is," repeated Miss 
Martha. " Why, go on. But I hope you 
won't run acrost oP man Dunkin ag'in an' git 
outsot." 

" I ain't afeard o' runnin' acrost ol' man 
Dunkin," said Alonzo, as he went out ; and he 
smiled an inscrutable smile. 

248 



DELIBERATION OF MR. DUNKIN 

Martha watched him as he went down the 
street and faded into the darkness. Then she 
went in and locked her door. 

" I don't keer," she said to herself, " I don't 
keer a bit. Ef he wants huh, he kin go 'long 
an' git huh. I 'low she'll be glad enough to 
have him. I ain't gwine to try an' hoi' him a 
bit." Then, to fortify her resolution, she buried 
her face in her apron and sobbed out the fulness 
of her heart. 

Mr. Taft's good-humour and gallantry came 
back to him as he knocked at Eli Thompson's 
door and asked for the teacher. Yes, she was 
in, and came smiling into the front room to see 
him. He carefully picked his phrases of greet- 
ing, shook her hand gently, and hoped that she 
was enjoying good health. 

Alonzo rather prided himself on the elegance 
of his conversation. His mind rebelled against 
the idea of having to talk hogs to this divine 
creature, and for some one else besides. 

" Reely, Miss Callena, I do' know as de 
gent'men ought to bothah you by callin' 'roun' 
in de evenin'. Haid wo'k is so hahd dat aftah 
yo' dooties endurin' de day you mus' be mos' 
nigh wo' out when night comes." 

249 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

u Oh, I assure you you are wrong, Mr. Taft. 
I am not very tired, and if I were there is noth- 
ing that rests the mind like agreeable company." 
And oh, the ravishing smile as she said this ! 
Alonzo felt his head going. 

" I don't reckon even agreeable company 'u'd 
res' me aftah labourin' wif some o' de childern 
you 've got in yo' school ; I knows 'em." 

" Well, it 's true they 're not all of them 
saints." 

" No, indeed, they 're not saints. I don't see 
how a slendah, delikit lady like yo'se'f kin man- 
age 'em, 'less 'n you jes' 'spire 'em wif respect." 

" I can see already," she answered, " that it 
is going to take something more than inspiration 
to manage the rising generation of Miltonville." 

Here was Alonzo's opportunity. He cast his 
eyes romantically toward the ceiling. 

" I c'nfess," he said, " dat I am one o' dem 
dat believes dat yo' sex ought to be mo' fu' 
o'nament. You ought to have de strong ahms 
of a man to pertect you an' manage fu' you." 

If that was a twinkle which for an instant 
lightened the dark eyes of Miss Callena, Mr. 
Taft did not see it, for his own orbs were still 
feelingly contemplating the ceiling. 

250 



DELIBERATION OF MR. DUNKIN 

" Ah, yes," sighed the teacher, " the strong 
arms of man would save poor woman a great 
deal ; but it is always the same difficulty, to 
find them both strong and willing." 

" Oh, I know ef you was de lady in ques- 
tion, dey 'd be plenty dat was willin' right hyeah 
in dis town." Alonzo went on impetuously, 
" Men dat owns houses an' Ian' an' hosses an' 
hogs, even dey 'd be willin' ef it was you." 

Miss Callena's eyes were discreetly cast down. 

" Oh, you flatter me, Mr. Taft." 

" Flattah you ! No, ma'am. You don't 
know lak I do. You have sholy brought new 
life into dis hyeah town, an' all Miltonville '11 
tek off its hat to you. Dat 's de way we feel 
to'ds you." 

u I am sure I appreciate these kind words 
of yours, and I hope that I shall be able to keep 
the good opinion of Miltonville." 

u Jes' as Miltonville hopes dat it may be 
pu'mitted to keep you," said Alonzo, gallantly. 
And so the conversation went along merrily. 

It was after ten o'clock before the enamoured 
caller could tear himself away from the soft 
glance and musical voice of the teacher. Then 
he told her : " Miss Callena, I sholy have in- 

251 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

joyed dis evenin'. It has been one of de most 
unctious in all my life. I shell nevah fu'git it 
so long as I am pu'mitted to remain on dis 
earth." 

In return, she said that the pleasure had been 
mutual, and it had been so kind of him to come 
in and take her mind off the cares of the day, 
and she did so hope that he would call again. 

Would he call again ! Could he stay away ? 

He went away walking on air. The beaver 
was tilted far back on his head, and the cane was 
more furiously twirled. The blue Prince Albert 
was thrown wide, showing the fawn-coloured 
waistcoat in all its glory. 

" Miss Callena, Miss Marfy, Mr. Dunkin an' 
me ! " said Mr. Taft; and he chuckled softly to 
himself. Then he added : " Well, I did speak 
'bout de hosses an* de hogs an' de Ian', did n't 
I ; well, what mo' could I do ? Of co'se, I 
did n't say whose dey was ; but he did n't want 
me to mention no names — jes' to hint, an' I 
did hint. Nobody could n't ask no mo' dan 
dat." 

Thus does that duplicity which is resident 
in the hearts of men seek to deceive even 
itself, making shining virtues of its shadiest acts. 

252 



DELIBERATION OF MR. DUNKIN 

In the days that ensued, Alonzo availed him- 
self of Miss Callena's invitation to call, and 
went often. If he was trying or had succeeded 
in deceiving himself as to his feelings, in the 
minds of two sagacious women there was yet no 
doubt about his intentions. The clear eyes of 
the teacher could do something besides sparkle ; 
they could see. And she wondered and smiled 
at the beau's veiled wooing. From the first 
gorgeous moment of the fawn-coloured waist- 
coat and the blue Prince Albert, the other 
woman, Martha, had seen through her recreant 
lover as by inspiration. She constantly brooded 
over his infidelity. He had entirely deserted 
her now, not even making any pretence of 
caring what she thought of him. For a while 
the girl went stolidly about her own business, 
and tried to keep her mind from dwelling 
on him. But his elegance and grace would 
come back to her with the memory of their 
pleasant days of courtship, and fill her heart 
with sorrow. Did she care for him still ? Of 
course she did. The admission hurt her pride, 
but fostered in her a strong determination. If 
she did love him and had dared to confess so 
much to herself, she had already reached the 

2 53 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

lowest depths of humiliation. It could be no 
worse to make an effort to retain her lover. 
This resolution gave her warrant to accost Mr. 
Dunkin the next time she saw him pass the 
house. 

" Howdy, Mistah Dunkin ? — how you come 
on?" 

"Jes'tol'able, Miss Marfy. How's yo'se'f?" 

"Mode't', thanky, jes' mode't'. How de 
school-house come on ? " 

" Oh, hit 's p'ogressin' mos' salub'ious, thanky, 
ma'am." 

" I would ax you how de teachah, but hit do 
seem dat Mistah Taf done beat yo' time so 
claih dat you would n't know nothin' 'bout 
it." 

" Haw, haw, Miss Marfy, you sholy is de 
beatenes' one to have yo' joke." 

" I 'claih to goodness, Mistah Dunkin, I 's 
s'prised at a man o' yo' position lettin' Mistah 
Taf git de bes' of him dat way." 

" Nemmine, Miss Marfy, I 'low dat young 
man o' yo'n done let out my secut, but you 
cain't rig me 'bout hit." 

"I don't unnerstan' you. What young man, 
an' what secut ? " 

254 



DELIBERATION OF MR. DUNKIN 

" Oh, I reckon you an' Mistah Taf ' '11 soon 
be man an' wife, an' hit ain't no hahm fu' de 
wife to know what de husban' know." 

" I do' know huccome you say dat ; Mistah 
TaP don' have nothin' to say to me ; he cou'tin' 
Miss Callena Johnson." 

" Don' have nothin' to say to you ! Cou'tin' 
Miss Callena ! " 

" Dat 's de reason I wants to know huccome 
you back out." 

" Back out ! Who back out ? Me back 
out ? I ain't nevah backed out : Mistah Taf 
foolin' you." 

" 'T ain' me he 's a-foolin'. He may be 
foolin' some folks, but hit ain't Marfy Jane 
Madison. La, Mistah Dunkin, I knows colo'ed 
folks, I kin shet my eyes an' put my han's on 
'em in de da'k. Co'se hit ain't none o' my 
business, but I know he ain't puttin' on his bes' 
clothes, an' gwine to see dat teachah th'ee 
times a week, 'less 'n he got notions in his haid. 
'T ain't in human natur, leastways not colo'ed 
human natur as I knows it. 'T ain't me he 's 
a-foolin'." 

" Do he put on his best clothes an' go th'ee 
times a week ? " 

255 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

" Dat he do, an' ca'ies huh flowahs f'om oF 
Major Richardson's pusservatory besides, an' 
you ain't makin' a move." 

"Ain't Mistah TaP nevah toF you nothin'?" 

" ToF me nothin' ! No, suhree. What he 
got to tell me ? " 

" Uh huh ! " said Mr. Dunkin, thoughtfully. 
"Well, good-night, Miss Marfy. I's glad I 
seed you; but I mus' be gittin' along. I got 
to delibe'ate ovah dis question." 

" Oh, yes ; you go on an' delibe'ate, dat 's 
right, an' while you delibe'atin', Mistah TaP he 
walk off wid de lady. But 't ain't none o' my 
business, 't ain't none o' my business." 

Mr. Dunkin deliberated as he walked down 
the street. Could there be any truth in Martha 
Madison's surmises ? He had talked with 
Alonzo only the day before, and been assured 
that everything was going right. Could it be 
that his lieutenant was playing him false ? Some 
suspicious circumstances now occurred to his 
mind. When he had spoken of going himself 
to see Miss Callena, he remembered now how 
Alonzo had insisted that he had matters in such 
a state that the interference of Mr. Dunkin just 
at that point would spoil everything. It looked 

256 



DELIBERATION OF MR. DUNKIN 

dark. His steps were taking him toward 
Major Richardson's. He heard a footstep, and 
who should be coming toward him, arrayed even 
as Martha Madison had said, but the subject of 
his cogitations ? Mr. Dunkin thought he saw 
Alonzo start as their eyes met. He had a bou- 
quet in his hand. 

" Hey ho, 'Lonzo. Gwine down to Miss 
Callena's ? " 

" Why — why — ye' — yes. I jes' thought 
I would walk 4own that way in yo' int'rus'." 

" My ! but you sholy has got yo'se'f up fit to 
kill." 

" When de genul sen's his messengers out to 
negoterate, dey mus' go in full unifo'm, so 's to 
impress de people dat dey genul is somebody." 

" Jesso," assented the elder man, " but I 
don't want you to be waihin' out yo' clothes in 
my suhvice, 'Lonzo." 

" Oh, dat 's all right, Mistah Dunkin ; hit 's 
a pleasuah, I assuah you." 

" How 's things comin' on, anyhow, down to 
Miss Callena's ? " 

cc Could n't be bettah, suh ; dey 's most pus- 
picious. Hit '11 soon be time fu' you to come 
in an' tek mattahs in yo' own han's." 
17 257 



FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

" Do you tell Miss Callena 'bout de houses 
an' Ian' ? " 

" Oh, yes ; I tells huh all about dat." 

" What she say ? " 

" Oh, she jes' smiles." 

" I reckon you tol' huh 'bout de hogs an' de 
chickens an' de hosses ? " 

" Yes, indeed, I sholy done dat." 

" What she do den ? " 

" She jes' smiled." 

" Did you th'ow out a hint 'bout me buyin' 
mo' Ian' ? " 

" Why, co'se I wa' n't go'n' to leave dat paht 
out." 

" Well, den, what did she say ? " 

" She smiled ag'in." 

" Huh ! she mus' be a gone smiler. 'Pears 
to me, 'Lonzo, 'bout time she sayin somep'n'." 

" Oh, she smile 'cause she kin do dat so 
purty, dat 's de reason she smile." 

" Uh huh ! Well, go 'long, I mus' be gittin' 
home." 

Alonzo Taft smiled complacently as he passed 
on. " Yes," he said to himself, " it '11 soon be 
time fu' Mistah Dunkin to come in an' tek 
mattahs in his own han's. It '11 soon be time." 

258 



DELIBERATION OF MR. DUNKIN 

He had lost all scruples at his course, and 
ceased self-questioning. 

Mr. Dunkin gave no sign of perturbation of 
mind as he walked down the street to his cot- 
tage. He walked neither faster nor slower than 
he had gone before seeing Martha Madison. 
But when he sank down into the depths of his 
arm-chair in the privacy of his own apartment, 
he said : " Miss Marfy say dat while I delib- 
e'atin' Mistah TaP walk off wif de lady. Huh 
uh ! Well, I jes' delibe'ate a little mo' while I 's 
a-changin' my clothes." 

Who shall tell of the charms which Miss 
Callena displayed that night, — how her teeth 
gleamed and her eyes sparkled and her voice was 
alternately merry or melting ? It is small won- 
der that the heart of Alonzo Taft throbbed, and 
that words of love rushed to his lips and burst into 
speech. But even then some lingering sense of 
loyalty made his expressions vague and ambigu- 
ous. There was the sea before him, but he 
hated, nay, feared to plunge in. Miss Callena 
watched him as he dallied upon the shore of an 
open declaration, and admired a timidity so rare 
in a man of Taft's attainments. 

" I know you boun' to look down on me, 

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FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

Miss Callena," he said, with subdued ardour, 
" 'cause I 'm a ign'ant man. I ain't had no 
ejication nor no schoolin'. I 'm jes' a se'f-made 
man. All I know I 've lunned Pom de white 
folks I 've wo'ked fu'." 

" It is n't always education that makes the 
man, Mr. Taft," said the school-teacher, encour- 
agingly. " I 've seen a great many men in my 
life who had all the education and schooling that 
heart could wish, but when that was said, all 
was said. They had n't anything here." She 
pressed her hand feelingly and impressively upon 
her heart. " It 's the noble heart, after all, that 
makes the real man." 

Mr. Taft also pressed his hand against his 
heart and sighed. They were both so absorbed 
that neither of them saw the shadow that fell 
on the floor from a form that stood in the 
doorway. 

" As for being self-made," Miss Callena 
went on, " why, Mr. Taft, what can be nobler 
or better for a man to know than that all he 
has he has got by his own efforts ? " 

The shadow disappeared, and the form receded 
from the doorway as the suitor was saying : " I 
tek no credit to myse'f fu' what I 've got, neither 

260 



DELIBERATION OF MR. DUNKIN 

in sense or money. But I am glad to say dat I 
wo'ked fix' everything myse'f." 

" You have reason to be proud of such a 
fact." 

They were visibly warming up. Alonzo 
moved his chair a little nearer, and possessed 
himself of Miss Callena's hand. She did not 
draw it away nor repulse him. She even hung 
her head. Yes, the proud, educated, queenly 
Callena Johnson hung her head. Meanwhile, in 
the darkness of the doorway the form stood and 
glowered upon them. 

" Miss Callena, at a time like dis, I hates to 
talk to you about de o'dina'y things of life, but 
when anything se'ious arises, it is alius well fu' 
de pahties to know each othah's circumstances." 

"You are a very sensible man, Mr. Taft." 

" Call me 'Lonzo," he murmured, patting her 
hand. " But, as I was going to say, it 's neces- 
sary dat you should know de circumstances of 
anybody who wanted to ax fu' dis han' dat I 'm 
a-holdin'." 

Miss Callena turned her head away and was 
silent. In fact, she held her breath. 

" Miss Johnson — Callena — what Vd you 
think of a nice cottage wif no encumbrances on 

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FOLKS FROM DIXIE 

it, a couple o' nice hosses, a cow an' ha'f a 
dozen of de fines' hogs in Miltonville — " 

" An' all o' dem mine ! " thundered the voice 
of the form, striding into the middle of the 
room. 

Miss Callena shrieked. Alonzo had been 
about falling on his knees, but he assumed an 
erect position with an alacrity that would have 
done credit to a gymnast. 

" Co'se, of co'se, Mistah Dunkin ! I was 
jes' a-comin' to dat ! " 

" I jes' come down fu' feah you 'd fu'git to 
tell Miss Callena who all dem things 'longed to, 
an' who 's a-layin' dem at huh feet," said Mr. 
Dunkin. 

" I 'low Miss Callena unnerstan' dat," said 
Mr. Taft, bobbing his head sheepishly. 

" I don't remember that Mr. Taft explained 
this before," said Miss Johnson, turning coldly 
from him. " Do have a seat, dear Mr. Dunkin." 

Alonzo saw with grief that the idol of his 
heart had transferred her affectionate smiles to 
the rightful owner of the other property that had 
been in question. He made his stay short, leav- 
ing Mr. Dunkin in undisputed possession of the 
field. 

262 



DELIBERATION OF MR. DUNKIN 

That gentleman took no further time for 
deliberation. He promptly proposed and was 
accepted. Perhaps even the romantic Miss 
Callena had an eye to the main chance. 

The day after the announcement of the en- 
gagement, he met his erstwhile lieutenant on the 
street. 

u Well, well, Mistah Dunkin, we winned huh, 
did n't we ? " said Alonzo. 

" 'Lonzo TaP," said Mr. Dunkin, deliberately, 
" I fu'give you, but you ain't de man I teken 
you to be." 



263